From the Right



When Can Government Kick Open the Door of Your House?

Terence P. Jeffrey on

"Individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings," it said, "in the following specific settings: ... Persons who are outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from others not in their household. Such persons must have a face covering with them at all times and must put it on if they are within 6 feet of others who are not in their household."

The hypothetical dog walker violated this mandate.

But did the government law enforcement agency that entered her hypothetical home -- or Lange's actual garage -- violate the Fourth Amendment? It says: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

In a brief in Lange v. California that was joined by the American Conservative Union Foundation and the Cato Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union says: "By categorically permitting police officers to enter a home without a warrant whenever they pursue a suspect they have probable cause to arrest for a misdemeanor, the California Court of Appeal violated petitioner's Fourth Amendment rights."

This is the right position.


If a law enforcement officer suspects someone is driving under the influence -- as opposed to playing loud music and honking his horn -- he should pull him over immediately to protect both that person and the public.

But when a law enforcement agency wants to enter someone's home -- other than to protect people there from a life-threatening emergency -- it should get a judge to give it a warrant.


Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of To find out more about him, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate, Inc.



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