Police officers in Utah who searched a suspect’s home without a warrant cannot be sued for violating his constitutional rights, the Supreme Court decided unanimously yesterday, reports the Associated Press. In ruling for five officers attached to the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force, the court abandoned a rigid, two-step test that it adopted in 2001 to guide judges in assessing alleged violations of constitutional rights.
Under the 2001 ruling, courts first had to determine whether an action violated a constitutional right and then decide whether the public official should be immune from the civil lawsuit. Officials can’t be held liable where it is not clearly established that their actions violated someone’s constitutional rights. The case grew out of a search of a home in 2002. A federal judge ruled the officers could not be sued because there was disagreement about whether the search was illegal.