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Nuclear Unicorn

(19,497 posts)
Sun Mar 29, 2015, 09:03 AM Mar 2015

Absurd Fourth Circuit ruling embodies everything thatís wrong with drug raids

The 4th Circuit just overturned the award in a civil suit where a man was shot and killed by police conducting a no-knock warrant.

Absurd Fourth Circuit ruling embodies everything that’s wrong with drug raids


But it’s worth considering what it means for this to be settled law. In the 20 or so years leading up to the American Revolution, the British crown began stationing troops in the streets of Boston to enforce England’s tax and import laws. The British troops and enforcement officers were armed with writs of assistance, or general warrants that gave them broad powers to search colonists’ homes. They didn’t need to establish probable cause, or even specificity as to a person or residence. The abuse that came with those warrants made Boston a hub of revolutionary fervor, and memories of that abuse are why the Founders created a Fourth Amendment after the war.

But while today’s search warrants require both specificity and some evidence of wrongdoing, in many ways the colonists had more protections than we do today. For example, the British soldiers could serve warrants only during the day. And they were always required to knock, announce themselves, announce their purpose and give the resident time and opportunity to come to the door to let them in peacefully. This was all in observance of the Castle Doctrine, or the idea that the home should be a place of peace and sanctuary, and that it should be violated only in the most extreme circumstances. Even then, the Castle Doctrine had a long and rich history in English common law, a tradition that carried over in the United States until the Supreme Court began chipping away at it in drug cases, beginning in about the 1960s.

Today, of course, authorities can break into homes without knocking. They can conduct raids at night. In theory, we’re today protected by the requirement that authorities show probable cause before serving a warrant, but given the deference judges give to police and prosecutors in much of the country and the boilerplate language you’ll often find on warrant affidavits, you could make a good argument that in many jurisdictions the probable cause protection is little more than a formality. In any case, if the Fourth Amendment is due to the Founders’ offense at British soldiers forcibly entering homes in daylight hours after knocking and announcing to search for contraband, it seems safe to say that the Founders would be appalled by the fact that today, dozens of times each day, heavily armed government officials break into homes, often at night, without first knocking and announcing, in order to conduct searches for contraband.

Drug raids weren’t always conducted this way. In fact, as I point out in my book, the no-knock raid wasn’t even something that organically grew out of policing. Police did sometimes enter homes without knocking. But it happened only if, while serving a search warrant, they observed some exigent circumstance that compelled them to do so — for example, if they heard someone getting beaten or hurt inside or observed through a window a resident loading a gun. But the idea of a pre-planned no-knock raid is a relatively new phenomenon. It was brought to us by drug-warring politicians, first through Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in New York, then via a Senate aide named Don Santarelli, who was recruited to the Richard Nixon presidential campaign in 1968, specifically for the purpose of coming up with tough-on-crime-sounding positions Nixon could stake out to appeal to (white) middle-class voters.


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Absurd Fourth Circuit ruling embodies everything thatís wrong with drug raids (Original Post) Nuclear Unicorn Mar 2015 OP
B*sh appointees. johnnyreb Mar 2015 #1
Scalia is a stain on humanity..... msanthrope Mar 2015 #3
I'm still appalled by this. NutmegYankee Mar 2015 #2
Kick for cops getting away with murder. Again. Comrade Grumpy Mar 2015 #4
kick Liberal_in_LA Mar 2015 #5
at least we're not a police state Fred Drum Mar 2015 #6


(915 posts)
1. B*sh appointees.
Sun Mar 29, 2015, 11:11 AM
Mar 2015

Outstandingly-written opinion. Judges Duncan and Agee were appointed by GW B*sh, war-profiteer and protector of the real 9/11 terrorists.

Dissenter Judge Harris was appointed by President Obama.

Vote Democrat or die.


(16,268 posts)
2. I'm still appalled by this.
Sun Mar 29, 2015, 07:43 PM
Mar 2015

The whole reason the forced entry drug raids started was to prevent someone from flushing the evidence down a drain. From this act, countless Men, Women, and Children have been killed or permanently scarred. It is one of the primary reason that I want to decriminalize all drugs. Not because I want to use them or that I'm a libertarian, but because the war on drugs has been so corrosive to Civil liberties like the 4th.

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