Police officers red flag confiscation order
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The Supreme Court has unanimously struck down warrantless so-called “community caretaking” searches of homes for firearms in a decision handed down today. In the search prompting Caniglia v. Strom, Rhode Island police responded to a wellness check request by a man’s wife and confiscated his firearms.

The police hung the legality of their warrant-free search on the “community caretaking” exception that allows them to search a vehicle that they’ve impounded. But that exception has never been extended to homes. The plaintiff in the case had to sue the police department to get his guns back.

The BidenHarris administration argued for the extension of the exception to residences which would have been a dangerously broad expansion of law enforcement’s ability to search your property without ever going before a judge.

Today, however, the Supreme Court signaled — in no uncertain terms — that they aren’t interested in poking a huge hole in the Fourth Amendment.

From Forbes . . .

The court ruled that the exception could not be extended to the home without violating the Fourth Amendment, overturning two lower courts that sided with the police officers and their argument that the amendment “does not prohibit law enforcement officers from diffusing a volatile situation in a home to protect the residents or others.”

“What is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion for the court, noting that the previous standard that allowed the “community caretaking” exception was not “a standalone doctrine that justifies warrantless searches and seizures in the home.”

The court’s decision does not affect police officers’ ability to take “reasonable steps to assist those who are inside a home and in need of aid” that are protected under a separate “exigent circumstances” doctrine, Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted in a concurring opinion, such as when an elderly person has fallen or to prevent a potential suicide.

It’s more than a little instructive that the BidenHarris administration came down squarely on the side of giving police more power to search individuals’ homes without a warrant. As Gun Owners of America’s John Velleco wrote here regarding the implications of the case, if the Court’s decision had gone the other way . . .

It would mean yet another erosion of the ancient English notion that “a man’s home is his castle” which undergirded the Fourth Amendment. It would allow police to conduct warrantless searches of your home and seizures of your firearms on the flimsiest of excuses.

All the police would need to say was that they were there for your own good — not to investigate a crime, and they could take away the means by which you protect your own home.

Today’s 9-0 opinion should make police think twice about trying to skirt Fourth Amendment protections “for your own good.”

82 COMMENTS

  1. the real shocker and what should be the story here is that there were not one but two lower courts that said this was perfectly ok…

    • Rhode Island is the same Federal District as Massachusetts I do not know how bad they are compared to districts 2 or 3 but it seems like a similar perception of the constitution being optional.

      • Note that the liberal wing of the court supported the 2nd amendment rights of the individual.

        So put that in your chamber and fire it, hysterical gun grabbing doom sayers

        • I AM, Quite Surprised That it was Unanimous, And its not like I haven’t seen a few of these Since Ike was the CiC

        • I don’t think so.

          The Liberal wing of the Court did not address the righteousness of seizing any firearms that police found in the home for ‘safe keeping;’ They only addressed the SEARCH of the home FOR firearms after a legal exigent entry. Instead of supporting the 2nd, they chose to support the 4th–in this specific case.
          If, on the other hand, the officers, while legally present inside the home, had seen a firearm or firearms (‘plain view’ exception), they could legally seize the firearm/s in view, and, if they chose, attempt to persuade a judge to issue a narrow-scope search warrant for the entire house and its curtilage.
          This is a narrow-scope search-and-seizure case, not a great ‘win’ for 2nd Amendment rights.

        • Wasn’t a 2nd amendment related case. Was a 4th amendment matter. Just so happened the items seized were guns. Could have been drugs or knock off DVD’s, would’ve been the same outcome.

        • –> “Today’s 9-0 opinion should make police think twice about trying to skirt Fourth Amendment protections “for your own good.””

          Love it. Epic.

        • This wasn’t a 2A case, it was a 4th amendment case. What was seized was two guns but the object seized wasn’t a factor at all.

    • I agree… how are these lower courts interpreting the law justly when the supreme court was unanimous in their decision?

      • The S.C. has been ruling against the 9th for decades. So seeing this ruling while surprising given the current War on the 2nd in Liberal states. Makes one give pause to the cases coming before the Court this term. As far as interpreting Laws. Courts have for years disagreed on legal interpretations. Which is why it’s all just a money and power game among politicians, judges and lawyers. As long as the S.C. can refuse cases of Constitutionality the game continues. At least as long as “We the People” continue to allow them to play. Keep Your Powder Dry.

        • Let’s hope SCOTUS will issue cert and smash the Ninth’s recent declaration that the 2A doesn’t really mean “bear arms”.

        • @Haz I’ve always considered Hope to be a lazy persons excuse for not doing something and wanting someone else or some Deity to do for them.
          Relying on Hope is like being a Dreamer…Neither gets the job Done.

        • @Darkman,

          Hope is central to the human condition. There’s a saying you may have heard:

          A person can up to survive 3 weeks without food,
          3 days without water,
          3 minutes without air,
          but only 3 seconds without hope.

          The Leftist Elites know that hope must be crushed if they are to gain permanent control over the populace. As long as hope exists, it’s a danger to them and their plans.

  2. If the leftist cabal on the USSC voted to suppress “community caretaking”, they must know their constituents are seriously vulnerable.

    An all to rare episode of “enlightened selfishness”?

      • “Sotomayor’s actually quite strong on 4A, last I checked.”

        But…..guns !

        Everything is left/right; everything is politics, politics is everything. For Leftist justices to vote to uphold the Constitution in a case regarding guns is simply unimaginable…unless they fear their enablers likely would be put at political risk in the future,.

  3. I know many people are going to say SCOTUS was just enforcing the text of the Constitution, but every now and then the tyrants needs to be smacked down. Even more interesting, Justice Samuel Alito said that the decision implicates but does not address “red flag” laws that allow police to confiscate guns with a court order.

    This is a huge win.

    • “Today’s 9-0 opinion should make police think twice about trying to skirt Fourth Amendment protections “for your own good.””

      That’s a reminder to all you “thin blue line” types. The cops aren’t your friends.

      • They are if they personally know you. Hence the superior community bond of smaller towns. Get to know and (genuinely) befriend LEOs.

        But if you encounter one who doesn’t know you, then of course…definitely not yer friend.

        • “But if you encounter one who doesn’t know you, then of course…definitely not yer friend.”
          But not necessarily you enemy either. Most are simply doing their jobs and hoping to get home to their family after shift.

  4. You mean Roberts voted to support the Constitution as written?

    (rubs eyes, reads article again…)

    • Yeah, I would guess that Roberts gave his vote last, and was getting stink-eyed by a few of the others… don’t want to stick out as too big of a p.o.s.!

      • If true, can you imagine how bad a Chief you’d have to be to get pass-voted by Sotomayor and Kagan?

        Oiy vey.

        That’s “aye caramba” for our Southwestern viewers.

    • Sadly people with no Consistent principals or moral framework are hard to predict and often in positions of power.

    • Doesn’t surprise me in this case, even the Leftists on the Court are going to support the 4th and 5th Amendments. This was always gonna be a SCOTUS slam dunk, despite what the caretakers of that cognitively impaired guy at 1600 think. It is just the 10th and the 2nd, and well the 1st that they want to limit into near oblivion. Roberts is mostly gonna side with the Left.

        • Except for the now-famous photos of Roberts dressed in his Hawaiians and his arm around Ghislaine Maxwell while in company that was known to cahort with Epstein. But whatever…

        • You’re very W-R-O-N-G. The classified information disclosed by POTUS TRUMP in his final WH hours showed Robert’s name on the flight logs to Pedophile Island TWICE on separate occasions. Roberts has been compromised more ways than one.

        • Please share with us your information about the connection between Chief Justice Roberts and Jeffrey Epstein, it must be fascinating!

    • I like to think Alito and Kagan threatened to give Roberts a blanket party if he tried any funny stuff this time.

      (Say what you want about Elena, she throws one *mean* blanket party. And uh, don’t ask me how I know that…)

  5. From the original story about the case: “The police officers then lied to Mrs. Caniglia and told her Mr. Caniglia agreed to confiscation of his weapons.”
    The police lied! I am shocked, shocked to find cops lying to citizens.

        • They can lie to you, you can not lie to them. Best answer is to say nothing to the cops….loads of real lawyers and law professors on the intertubz will tell you that for free!
          My favorite: https://youtu.be/d-7o9xYp7eE

        • Technically … YES … but as per a SCOTUS decision only under certain circumstances when not lying can cause loss of arrest or information for a critical arrest when not lying would result in failure of the same. Otherwise dishonesty in investigation, arrests, evidence processing, court testimony, etc., can result in an adverse career change for life.

        • Unless the officers are Federal it is not a crime to lie to police or it is not enforced. If that was the case there would be millions of additional charges on the state level for lying to police. But the best advice is always to shut up and say nothing.

        • Also, obviously, it’s a good idea to not *listen* to police, since they can lie to you without penalty. Filter what they have to say through your lawyer.

  6. Alito’s opinion …

    This case also implicates another body of law that petitioner glossed over: the so-called “red flag” laws that some States are now enacting. These laws enable the police to seize guns pursuant to a court order to prevent their use for suicide or the infliction of harm on innocent persons. See, e.g., Cal. Penal Code Ann. §§18125–18148 (West Cum. Supp. 2021); Fla. Stat. §790.401(4) (Cum. Supp. 2021); Mass. Gen. Laws Ann., ch. 140, §131T (2021). They typically specify the standard that must be met and the procedures that must be followed before firearms may be seized.

    Provisions of red flag laws may be challenged under the Fourth Amendment, and those cases may come before us. Our decision today does not address those issues.

    • That would ONLY be if there was a warrant issued under the red flag law. Such a judicial decision is still unconstitutional.

      • Ironically, the cops lying to Mr. Caniglia, being the biggest reason for the case ruling, opens up the Precedent to strike down red flag laws outright.
        Florida and Colorado are the most glaring examples because the supermajority of red flag instances are determined to be false accusations.

      • Even warrants in red flag cases are suspect.

        “An arrest warrant is a warrant granted by a judge in a court of law to a law enforcement official granting that law enforcement official the right and ability to arrest a person of interest regarding a crime.”

        No crime has taken place, so warrant’s in red flag cases are bunk.

        • I firmly agree.it appears however before it’s all done Soetoro will have been the emperor for 12 years at least.

        • You provided reference for arrest warrant, were you aware there is also such a thing as a search warrant?

  7. One of the most righteous decisions ever. Now I hope they shoot down all these tyrannical red flag laws and magazine restrictions and “assault” weapon bans. Only leaves a few better decisions to be made. This is an excellent win and I am elated.

    • “9-0 is the surprise to me.”

      Same here.

      I was expecting a ruling structured along the lines of :

      “Because of the unique danger guns posses…”

      Fuqe it. I’ll take any win for freedom…

  8. Thomas — the most conservative Justice — wrote the opinion and all the liberal Justices joined it. The conservative Justices did too, But only the conservative Justices felt the need to write concurrences, which were all along the lines of “we agree, but…”

    Welcome to Bizarro World.

    • “What is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion for the court,…

      These words will be twisted and used against us. Future anti-2A statement: Sure it is reasonable that you keep and bear arms at home, but a vehicle is different and it is not reasonable to have a firearm with you in your car. Some just can’t help but ignore context.

    • There are a fair number of Circuit and District level judges that were appointed by Bush and Obama.

      • I have a REALLY hard time telling the two of them apart… Now, which one was the cowardly War Pig and which one raped the economy?

        • Uh, I think history shows BOTH were cowardly war pigs (Osama more so), and which raped the economy worse could be argued.

  9. I take this to be an excellent sign that SCOTUS is willing to take a layering of rights/powers in a hierarchy approach rather than simply picking one right vs another (or one power over a right).

    The philosophy at the founding was that: powers of government were enumerated and few; while rights of citizens were un-enumerable and many. Considerable management of powers was possible to avoid conflicts. But avoidance of conflicts among competing rights is impossible. How to cope when a case involves competing rights; or, rights that compete with powers?

    One solution would be a rule that picks some winner. Government powers always trump citizens’ rights; or vice versa. Or, judges simply pick a theory of the case at whim with no need to reconcile one case with another vaguely analogous.

    Here, I take it, SCOTUS construed a general power of government (to be able to search reasonably) against a specific right (“. . . to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects . . .”). When the very specific right to be secure in one’s house conflicts with a power of government to search reasonably, the more specific (the right) trumps the more general (government’s power). This seems to be wise and reasonable.

    This was not – clearly – a 2A case, it was a 4A case. Nevertheless, I think (if my reading is correct) it IS promising. The 10A preserves to the states the “police power” deemed to be the power to legislate to preserve public health, safety and morals. An artifact such as a gun (or a gasoline can or package of poison or corrosive, etc.) represents some greater/lesser threat to public safety. A state has 10A power to legislate to promote safety; to empower police to secure such an artifact.

    Arguably, one’s car is one’s “effect”. To seise an abandoned dangerous artifact (gun, . . . corrosive) in a car is to encroach on the owner’s 4A right. To do so in a house is to encroach most deeply into the citizen’s right.

    To seise such an artifact left in a public place – the town square – is to encroach upon the owner’s “effect” in the slightest degree. And yet, hardly anyone would construe such a seizure to be “unreasonable”. So, we seem to have a hierarchy here of power and rights. Seizure of an unintended hazard in a public place is clearly reasonable. If located in a locked car it’s a borderline case where reasonable jurists may differ. But in the home the right to be secure from search and seizure must be at it’s zenith. If SCOTUS refused to admit of this fact then the 4A right would shrivel to a non-entity.

    Suppose a different fact set. Suppose the hazard left in the home were a vessel of compressed gas; propane, poison gas, an oxy-acetylene welding kit. A forest fire threatens the house. Would such artifacts enjoy equal ranking with a gun left in the house? Perhaps they would not. The gun enjoys enumerated status while the other hazards do not.

    And that, it seems to me, is what is at stake in Corlett and Young. Yes, admittedly, there is a state power to legislate to the laudable goal of promoting public safety. But this is a more general rule when compared to the very specific right to keep and bear arms in case of confrontation. It seems to me that SCOTUS has no alternative but to say that the specific right trumps the very general power of government to promote safety.

  10. Not Surprising that Mr Chairman biden and Ms Chairwoman harris of the first secretariat to Party central, would support that violation of the fourth amendment, And Party central speaker Nasty Nutty Nancy pelosi, as well !

  11. SCOTUS won’t be able to uphold red flag laws after this ruling. A case just has to make it there.

    • Over 80% in Florida and Colorado are determined to be meritless via false accusations………..Hundreds upon hundreds of cases to chose from in 2 States alone.

    • SCOTUS can DO Whatever it Wants. Since it has been decreed to be the last word much in the same way as George III Was the Last Word. Keep’n My Powder Dry…Yours is up to you.

  12. Cool. This is the crumb the courts have tossed us so they can occasionally pretend they’re not worthless scumbags. They’ll send us another crumb in 15 years, and until then they’ll remain happily complicit in sodomizing the citizenry

  13. Well the police cannot wily nilly strong arm you out of your rights which is a very good thing. America has seen enough strong arming when the Jim Crow military wing of the democRat Party known as the KKK beat and bullied Black Americans out of their 2A right all because their skin was Black.
    Of course if you are not playing with a full deck and have a habit of downing alcohol with numerous meds and waving a .357 around while your family cowers in fear you still will have to say buh bye to your 2A right, etc.

  14. The other takeaway for this case is that the man’s WIFE ordered the wellness check. He needs to divorce her YESTERDAY!

    As King Solomon said, “It is better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. Restraining her is like restraining the wind, or grasping oil in the hand.”

    Translation: “B***hes be crazy!”

  15. “Today, however, the Supreme Court signaled — in no uncertain terms — that they aren’t interested in poking anymore huge holes in the Fourth Amendment.”

    FIFY
    The War on (some) Drugs has destroyed most of the Bill of Rights.

  16. Scotus sounds like a disease.
    Supreme Court of The U. S., sounds like a bunch of guys who set up a kingdom using laws.
    Now that appointed for life thing. Does that mean if they retire or quit they’re taken on a boat ride to swim with the fishes.

      • @GRA I’ve always considered Hope to be a lazy persons excuse for not doing something and wanting someone else or some Deity to do for them.
        Relying on Hope is like being a Dreamer…Neither gets the job Done

        • You have your strategy and I have mine. HINT; I really don’t care what your strategy is.

  17. this is good ruling, but the original case that created the “community care” standard is bullshit.

    if you want to search an impounded car, which is property of a person, or an “effect”, (or sometimes a car is even a person’s home) the constitutional standard is clearly written:

    “ The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

  18. In the business world, if a lower level of management made a decision that got kicked upstairs and determined to be wrong, there would be consequences. In Government, anybody involved in passing an unconstitutional law or making some other decision that is ultimately struck down face no consequences. If we started prosecuting people for breaking the law by violating the constitution things would be different. As long as there are no consequences or accountability We The People will continue to be subject to whatever tyranny the government thinks they can get away with. And don’t try to tell me it can be fixed at the ballot box. There is no ballot box.

    • Prosecuting, yeah, sure, fine, not gonna happen. Why not just try the easy way, everyone who voted for (or in the case of POTUS, signed) a law later found to be unconstitutional is ineligible for reelection. WHAT?? I might have to get a JOB?? Let me read that again. Would take an Amendment, though.

  19. can we all agree here though that his wife should never have notified the police, considering the rights being taken away from everyone.. I mean since when are any of these people the peoples friend?

  20. For SJW’s, everything they do or want to do is for your own damn good. And you should be grateful to them.

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