Hit & Run

Supremes Say: You'd Better Stay Home


SCOTUSBlog has a good, thorough post on today's ruling in Georgia v. Randolph [PDF], in which the Supreme Court held that one person may block a (warrantless) search of a shared dwelling, even if the other resident consents—but only if the person who objects is there at the door. That is, one supposes, an improvement over the previous standard, which was that one person's consent was enough even when the other resident objected, but it does seem to make citizens' "reasonable expectation of privacy" depend in a fairly arbitrary way on whether they happen to be around (and, for that matter, awake and at the door) when the cops come knocking. Oddly, the dissent by Chief Justice Roberts notes this problematic arbitrariness, but instead of concluding that consent should be actively sought from the actual target of the search rather than a roommate, suggests that cohabiting automatically cedes to the roommate discretion over where your "reasonable expectation of privacy" ends, even in the face of active objections. But then, given Roberts' record of finding an excuse for a search whenever possible, that shouldn't come as much surprise.