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Supreme Court Sanctions Violations to the Constitution

Do police officers have too much power? One would hope not. In cases like Hudson v. Michigan (2006), we see that officers can, at times, be given too much authority. The power granted to officers is clearly represented in American cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson.

The thing is though, the cops are not really the problem. In all actuality, the real problem lies in the hands of the judges on the Roberts Court. Some argue that the court has made it clear that African Americans do not matter to the police.

Jamal Good, a Detroit police officer, blatantly took the Constitution into his own hands and completely disregarded its content. Good verbally admitted that he ignored the Fourth Amendment, the one that insists searches be reasonable, and decided to not "knock and announce" before entering a home.

One would think that the Supreme Court would be more concerned with the upholding of the Constitution rather than if an officer should be punished when they admit that they willingly violated it. In the Hudson case, they also had to decide as to whether the evidence found unconstitutionally would uphold in court. Guess what? It was ruled admissible.

It's not as if the knock-and-announce law is new. This has been around for decades. On the contrary, there are some exceptions to the law, such as when the police might endanger themselves or risk the destruction of evidence by announcing themselves.

In the Hudson case, it is not as though they are saying the rule does not apply, Hudson is simply stating that if the police barge into a home unannounced, they will not be sanctioned.

Justice Antonin Scalia decided to make matters worse. He was one of the justices who voted that the officer was allowed to completely ignore the Fourth Amendment. He completely belittled the exclusionary rule.

It was as if we were meeting a new Scalia. He was not the same man he used to be. Scalia can be very persuasive, but you would not know that his opinion was false until you read Justice Stephen Breyer's dissent.

Scalia expressed that officers would have to truly follow the knock-and-announce rule after the Hudson case. The justice assumes that they would have to since they can still be sued. This basically says that the person whose home Officer Good illegally searched, needs to hire an attorney who can then convince a jury to award damages. I can tell you, as a lawyer, I turn down most cases, and would likely turn down that one as well due to the expense of a lawsuit, even though I would want to take it based on principle.

This will never happen, and Scalia knows this. First off, an attorney would not even take this sort of case. Even if they did take it and win, the amount they would receive would be less than the cost of the court proceedings. Plus, the likelihood of a plaintiff winning this sort of case is slim, especially plaintiffs like Hudson, whose illegal search revealed a gun and cocaine.

In 1961, Mapp v. Ohio, they twisted the exclusionary rule as well. The last thing they wanted to do was throw out incriminating evidence at trial so the Court referred to the Fourth Amendment as just "a form of words."

Next, comes Scalia again. In his argument he talks about work written by a well-respected criminal-justice scholar, Samuel Walker, in order to support his far-fetched theory that the exclusionary rule was no longer necessary in order to make police abide by the Constitution.

Walker was appalled by Scalia's argument and reference to his work. He wrote, "Thanks for Nothing, Nino," where he stated that Scalia "twisted my main argument to reach a conclusion the exact opposite of what I spelled out in this and other studies."

Breyer's dissent states that there are only two kinds of cases where the exclusionary rule were not relatable. He explains that the Hudson case did not fit into either of these categories. He even attached an appendix listing cases in which the Court had applied the exclusionary rules since 1914 in order to prove his point. He did all of this because of Scalia's third lie, which was that the exclusionary rule was set forth to be the remedy of last resort.

On the Supreme Court, it only takes five votes. We can look at Hudson as the first "victory" in a long-running campaign to get rid of the exclusionary rule. The next victory for them came when Chief Justice John Roberts, would not apply the exclusionary rule when a foreign national was arrested because they were in violation of an international treaty. Again, two years later, he ruled that the rule does not apply when police make "good faith" mistakes.

Roberts isn't always conniving, though. In this court, they are very precise in making sure that privacy is not being violated because of all of the new technology. Police have to obtain warrants before they can use GPS devices for surveillance and before they can search through a person's smartphone.

Connick v. Thompson (2011) is a perfect example in demonstrating that the Fourth Amendment just does not apply to the criminal justice system. In this case, a man was on death row for 18 years due to a wrongful conviction because of illegally withheld evidence. It was ruled that the prosecution was not responsible for a "single act of wrongdoing" therefore, reversed a jury's award of $14 million to John Thompson.

Again, in 2007, conservative justices would not grant an appeal to Keith Bowels, a convicted murderer, because he filed his motion too late, and it was the district court who had given him the wrong deadline.

As Justice David Souter wrote in dissent on Bowles, "It is intolerable for a judicial system to treat people this way." This will probably go down in the books as just "how it is" in the Roberts court.

I find this especially interesting, given the state of Kanas law regarding DUI. Currently, in order to pull someone over a Kansas officer must have reasonable suspicion, otherwise the evidence will be suppressed in the criminal case. The exclusionary rule applies. However, the reason for the stop doesn't matter on the civil side regarding the administrative hearing or the driver license. The way the law currently stands, you could be stopped for being black and the exclusionary rule wouldn't apply in the administrative hearing. Insane!