Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Are Justices Alito and Thomas "activist" judges?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided 8-1 (per Justice Sonia Sotomayor) that the automobile exception does not justify police officers intruding onto the curtilage of one's home to conduct a search of a motorcycle. The majority:
This case presents the question whether the automobileexception to the Fourth Amendment permits a police officer, uninvited and without a warrant, to enter the curtilage of a home in order to search a vehicle parkedtherein. It does not.


Given the centrality of the Fourth Amendment interest in the home and its curtilage and the disconnect between that interest and the justifications behind the automobile exception, we decline Virginia’s invitation to extend the automobile exception to permit a warrantless intrusion on a home or its curtilage.
According to 8 of the Justices, this was a pretty straightforward application of existing law.  Justice Thomas concurred, saying just that.  But he also said that the Court should reconsider whether the exclusionary rule applies to the States (a rule that has been in existence since 1961, when the Court decided Mapp v. Ohio) because: "[he is] skeptical of this Court’s authority to impose the exclusionary rule on the States."

Alito, the most anti-defendant anti-4th Amendment Justice on the Court, is the lone dissenter.  He goes so far as to call the 8 Justice majority unreasonable, assinine, and idiots:
An ordinary person of common sense would react to the Court’s decision the way Mr. Bumble famously responded when told about a legal rule that did not comport with thereality of everyday life. If that is the law, he exclaimed, “the law is a ass—a idiot.” C. Dickens, Oliver Twist 277 (1867).
The Fourth Amendment is neither an “ass” nor an “idiot.” Its hallmark is reasonableness, and the Court’s strikingly unreasonable decision is based on a misunderstanding of Fourth Amendment basics.


Rumpole said...

Yes. No brainer. It's just whose ox is gored. see, Bush v. Gore.

Anonymous said...

That's a rhetorical question, right?

And, I love it when judges tell lawyers they need to be more civil when they call each other asses and idiots.

Anonymous said...

An "Activist" judge is any judge who rules against you.