Supreme Court Rules Police Do Not Need a Warrant to Search Your Home


In Fernandez v. California, 134 S. Ct. 1126, the United States Supreme Court ruled that police officers do not need a warrant to search your home when a resident who objects to a warrantless search is removed for a lawful purpose such as an arrest and a remaining resident consents to the search at a later time. 

The Feranandez Court’s holding reversed prior legal precedence established by the Supreme Court  in Georgia v. Randolph where the Court ruled that police may not conduct a warrantless search of a home when co-occupants of a residence disagrees on whether to allow the police to search their home.

In Fernandez, Justice Alito, opined that the search of the residence was valid despite Fernandez’ prior refusal to consent to the search because he was no longer physically present after being removed from the residence due to his arrest, and when police came back to the residence his girlfriend consented to a search of the residence.

Justice Alito reasoned that “respect for the girlfriend’s independent voluntary consent requires that it be honored”. 

This decision by the Supreme Court amounts to an encroachment of the protections afforded to citizens by the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, and is definitely a victory for the police. It appears that the Fernandez decision moves society one step closer to a police state, and waters down the 4th Amendment protections our forefathers promised us in the Constitution.

The females Justices on the court, namely, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg made up the dissenting opinion in Fernandez. Justice Ginsburg writing for the dissent, posited that once Fernandez objected to the search, police should have applied for a search warrant.