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.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."
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.
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.