Caniglia v. Strom

The Fourth Amendment Defends Liberty by Securing Property from Government Invasions

Amicus Briefs > Property Rights > Caniglia v. Strom

This case is about whether the police have the right to enter your home without a warrant while you’re away and confiscate your property under the guise of “community caretaking.” If they have the power to do this, as the First Circuit Court of Appeals said, then every person’s home is less secure against arbitrary government trespasses with every new regulation passed.

Police officers entered Edward Caniglia’s home and confiscated his gun without a warrant on the bare suspicion that he may, after returning home at some indeterminate future time, harm himself with it. That suspicion was based on his wife’s explanation that he tossed the gun on the table and dramatically intoned that she should shoot him during an argument of the previous night.

In our friend-of-the-court brief, PLF argues that the Supreme Court should reverse the First Circuit and hold that in the absence of consent or emergencies, agents of the government must obtain a warrant before entering a private home.

The First Circuit was wrong to apply an old case from the 1970s that permitted a “community caretaking” search of a vehicle to prevent the gun of a recently arrested person from being looted from his car.

The home is the location of the strongest property and privacy rights. The Fourth Amendment demands a warrant or active emergency before a government agent, whether that person is a police officer or zoning inspector, can enter it without express permission from the occupants.

The First Circuit’s expansion of government warrantless search powers stands in opposition to the text, history, and original meaning of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

Related Documents

PLF regularly participates as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, in cases brought by others. This supplements our direct representation cases by providing judges with unique, strategic, and helpful arguments to consider when crafting their opinions in related cases

Opinion of the Supreme Court

May 17, 2021 Download

PLF Amicus Brief in Support of the Petitioners

February 19, 2021 Download

What’s at stake?

  • At stake is the erosion of the rights of an American to say “no” to the government agent standing on their doorstep, demanding to search their house without a warrant.

Brief Authors

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