Reason Roundup

Get a Warrant, Supreme Court Tells Cops Who Seized Guns From Home Without Due Process

Plus: On SATs and bias, what changed when Texas lifted its mask mandate, and more...


Warrantless seizure of guns from a home is not OK, the Supreme Court reminded police officers on Monday. This applies even if someone is undergoing treatment for mental health issues.

The case, Caniglia v. Strom, involved a domestic dispute between Edward Caniglia and his wife. "During an argument with his wife, petitioner Edward Caniglia placed a handgun on the dining room table and asked his wife to 'shoot [him] and get it over with.' His wife instead left the home and spent the night at a hotel. The next morning, she was unable to reach her husband by phone, so she called the police to request a welfare check," the Court explains in its summary. It goes on to explain that:

The responding officers accompanied Caniglia's wife to the home, where they encountered Caniglia on the porch. The officers called an ambulance based on the belief that Caniglia posed a risk to himself or others. Caniglia agreed to go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation on the condition that the officers not confiscate his firearms. But once Caniglia left, the officers located and seized his weapons. Caniglia sued, claiming that the officers had entered his home and seized him and his firearms without a warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

A federal district court sided with the cops who had seized Caniglia's guns without a warrant. And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit affirmed this decision, saying that a "community caretaking exception" to warrant requirements made it OK. But the Supreme Court disagreed in a unanimous decision.

"The Fourth Amendment protects 'the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,'" notes Justice Clarence Thomas in the Court's opinion. And "the 'very core' of this guarantee is 'the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion," he points out, citing the 2013 case Florida v. Jardines.

"To be sure, the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit all unwelcome intrusions 'on private property,'—only 'unreasonable' ones," adds Thomas. "We have thus recognized a few permissible invasions of the home and its curtilage. Perhaps most familiar, for example, are searches and seizures pursuant to a valid warrant." And police are sometimes permitted to enter under exigent circumstances, such as a need to offer emergency assistance to an injured person or to prevent imminent harm.

Yet none of those circumstances applied in this case. And the "community caretaking" exception applied by the 1st Circuit doesn't work, suggested SCOTUS. In that case—Cady v. Dombrowski—police without a warrant searched an impounded car for a firearm.

An impounded car is different than a home, and "what is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes," the Supreme Court concluded. Not only that but "Cady expressly contrasted its treatment of a vehicle already under police control with a search of a car 'parked adjacent to the dwelling place of the owner,'" wrote Thomas:

Cady's unmistakable distinction between vehicles and homes also places into proper context its reference to "community caretaking." This quote comes from a portion of the opinion explaining that the "frequency with which . . . vehicle[s] can become disabled or involved in . . . accident[s] on public highways" often requires police to perform noncriminal "community caretaking functions," such as providing aid to motorists. But, this recognition that police officers perform many civic tasks in modern society was just that—a recognition that these tasks exist, and not an open-ended license to perform them anywhere.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected arguments for exceptions to the requirement that police obtain a warrant before searching a home. "We thus vacate the judgment below and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion," the justices wrote.


Should we do away with the SATs? Many progressives think so, arguing that the test is a poor measure of cognitive ability or perhaps even "white supremacist." Leftist writer and The Cult of Smart author Freddie deBoer challenges their conceptions, including the idea that "SATs/ACTs don't predict college success," that they only measure test taking ability, that they "just replicate the income distribution," that they're easily gamed by tutoring, and that losing the SATs will help colleges expand racial diversity.

"Any useful discussion of these issues has to start with getting past the mountains of fake facts and folk wisdom that progressive people have been peddling" about them, suggests deBoer. "If you're anti-SAT/ACT, say so—but stop making empirically indefensible claims."


Nothing changed when Texas lifted its mask mandate: 

A number of states are dropping mandatory mask requirements in light of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidance. For instance, New York will start letting private establishments make their own mask decisions:

Virginia lifted its mask mandate last Friday. Massachusetts' mask mandate will end on May 29. Kentucky's mask mandate will be repealed as of June 11.

Elsewhere, "state investigators will no longer inspect retail businesses for compliance with the Ohio mask mandate, which will be revised Monday to allow fully vaccinated Ohioans to drop their masks in most indoor locations," reports The Enquirer.

National chains including Target have said they'll stop requiring customers to wear masks in states where it's not mandated. Masks "will continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated," said Target.

Some stores have even been removing mandates a little prematurely:

L.A. County's director of public health Monday said officials have been contacting a number of retail chains to emphasize that existing rules that require everyone to wear masks indoors in a store remain in effect in California.

The education effort came after the Trader Joe's in South Pasadena posted a sign in front of its store on Friday that gave permission for vaccinated shoppers to enter its market without a mask — a policy that violates California orders.

California's mask mandate will remain in effect until June 15.


• The Supreme Court will hear a case concerning a Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks.

• Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, is costing the state hundreds of millions in legal fees to defend his erstwhile racial profiling. "The costs to taxpayers from a racial profiling lawsuit stemming from former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration patrols in metro Phoenix a decade ago are expected to reach $202 million by summer 2022," the Associated Press reports.

The Atlantic looks at how Vice President Kamala Harris is doing so far. "If Biden's presidency succeeds, Harris will be on a glide path to the Democratic nomination and potentially the White House," writes Edward-Isaac Dovere. "If it doesn't, her vice presidency could end her political career."

• In July, "roughly 39 million households will begin receiving automatic payments" as part of the new child tax credit program, CBS News reports.

• Sex work is part of the gig economy, writes Farmingdale State College sociology professor Angela Jones, in a piece on her research into online sex work communities and how "the internet has helped improve sex workers' lives, including by keeping them safer."

Medical marijuana is now legal in Alabama.

• Trump's trade war is now Biden's trade war.

Gun buyback programs don't work.