May 17th, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
In a rare unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court re-affirmed some of the most sacred principles we have under Constitutional law – the right to be secure in our homes and free from governmental intrusion without a judicially-authorized warrant. In Caniglia v. Strom, a case that originated right here in Rhode Island, a welfare check conducted by a police department which resulted in no criminal charges nor involuntary hospitalization ended up resulting the the confiscation of Mr. Canilgia’s firearms without any further due process. Inexplicably, the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit both ruled in favor of the police department’s seizure, citing the “community caretaking exception” to the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement as a valid reason why the police could seize Mr. Caniglia’s firearms in his home without a warrant.
Today, the United States Supreme Court flatly rejected that idea that the “community caretaking exception” to the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement even exists when it comes to a person’s home, vacating the judgments of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit. While reemphasizing that the 4th Amendment protects us all from unreasonable searches and seizures, the Court directly stated that what may be a reasonable warrantless search for other locations, such as a movable vehicle, is not reasonable when it comes to searches and seizures of one’s home.
Throughout my career, I have seen this tactic used by some in law enforcement as a way to skirt the warrant requirement of the 4th Amendment, whether it be to search a home for contraband, firearms or evidence of a crime. It seems to always start with a wellness check and then morph into an adversarial situation where one’s rights and liberties are taken or suspended until a court orders otherwise. Today, the highest court in our nation did just that, and all those who are for the rule of law should celebrate this decision. While I believe most members of law enforcement do their jobs admirably and courageously each and every day, we cannot allow any part of government to unlawfully strip us of some of our most basic Constitutional protections without proper due process of law, whether it be in a criminal justice setting, an Extreme Risk Protection Order setting, or some regulatory setting.
If elected Attorney General in 2022, I will ensure that all of our governmental bodies, be it police, regulatory or executive agencies, respect and protect our rights at all times. I will not look the other way nor defend the actions of governmental actors who work in contravention of Rhode Islanders’ Constitutional rights. I will be that independent voice and the much-needed check and balance on the government of this State who will always put the protection, safety and rights of the people above all other considerations, and most importantly, I will always put the Law Above Politics.