Writing at the blog of the Cato Institute Ilya Shapiro highlights the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday in Bailey v. United States, a major Fourth Amendment case. He writes:

In Bailey, the Court rejected the argument that police should be able to detain someone anywhere at any time if they see that person exiting a location for which there’s a valid search warrant.  Instead, by a 6-3 vote in an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court ruled that the power to detain incident to the execution of a search warrant – established in the 1981 case of Michigan v. Summers – is limited to the “immediate vicinity” of the premises to be searched.  

The police may want broader detention powers, but none of the justifications for the Summers exception to the normal probable cause requirement – officer safety, facilitating the search, preventing flight – remain in cases where police detain someone beyond that immediate vicinity. In Bailey, police saw the defendent leave a home they were about to search and, rather than detaining him there and executing the search warrant, followed and subsequently stopped him nearly a mile away.