"Why Should Fourth Amendment Protections Be Lessened to Prevent the Destruction of Evidence?"


The Harlan Institute's Josh Blackman raises some interesting Fourth Amendment questions in light of the Supreme Court's controversial decision this week in Kentucky v. King, which held that police don't need a warrant to enter your home if they suspect that contraband is being destroyed inside. As Blackman writes:

I understand why threats to an officer's safety, or the safety of other's constitutes exigent circumstances that supports vitiating Fourth Amendment rights… But how does the destruction of evidence fit into that calculus? Perhaps if the destruction of evidence (by burning maybe?) poses a threat to others that fits, but what difference does it make if a suspect flushes evidence down the toilet–a plumber may be upset, but no one else is at risk of being harmed.

Now, the obvious answer is that it makes it more difficult for the state to prosecute the crime, and put the bad guy behind bars. But, so what? What "right" does the government have to evidence. I suppose destruction of evidence could be a crime, but my question, more broadly, is why a constitutional right is limited in these cases.

Read the whole thing here. Jacob Sullum commented on a similar case from Indiana earlier today.