Police without a warrant cannot search a home when one resident says to come in but another tells them to go away, the Supreme Court said today by a 5-to-3 vote, the Associated Press reports. Chief Justice John Roberts complained that the ruling could hamper investigations of domestic abuse. The court majority said police lacked authority to enter and search the home of a Georgia lawyer even though the man’s wife invited them in. The officers, who did not have a warrant, found evidence of illegal drugs.
In his first written dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts said that “the end result is a complete lack of practical guidance for the police in the field, let alone for the lower courts.” Justices swapped barbs, with Souter calling Roberts’ view a “red herring.” Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas filed separate dissents, and Justice John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer wrote their own opinions to explain votes in favor of the man whose home was searched. Stevens said that “assuming that both spouses are competent, neither one is a master possessing the power to override the other’s constitutional right to deny entry to their castle.”