The Indiana Supreme Court Guts the Fourth Amendment

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With regard to Barnes’s right to inform the original jury of Fourth Amendment constraints, the Court held that since “the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law” (as per this ruling), “the trial court‘s failure to give Barnes‘s proffered jury instruction on this right was not error.” The Court thus concluded, “Barnes‘s conviction and sentence are affirmed.”

Justices Brent Dickson and Robert Rucker dissented from the decision, with Dickson stating that “the wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad,” insisting that the Court could have taken “a more narrow approach, construing the right to resist unlawful police entry, which extends only to reasonable resistance, by deeming unreasonable a person’s resistance to police entry in the course of investigating reports of domestic violence.” Justice Rucker who called the decision a “breathtaking” erosion of the Fourth Amendment, contended there is is “simply no reason to abrogate the common law right of a citizen to resist the unlawful police entry into his or her home. ” Rucker then cut to the heart of the case: “At issue in this case is not whether Barnes had the right to resist unlawful police entry into his home–a proposition that the State does not even contest–but rather whether the entry was illegal in the first place, and if so, whether and to what extent Barnes could resist entry without committing a battery upon the officer.”

The fallout from the ruling has been produced starkly contrasting reactions. One one hand, Indiana State Police are investigating several threatening phone calls and emails which Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said were directed “primarily” at police officers. “We obviously want to protect the safety of our employees and alert police to individuals who might be dangerous, so we contacted Capitol Police,” she said. “Because they are investigating, I am not able to give more specific information.”

On the other hand, radio host Mike Church has reported on his website that Newton County Sheriff Department head, Don Hartman Sr., contends the ruling means that random house to house searches are now possible, and that people would welcome them if it means capturing a criminal. The Sheriff did not return calls to verify this quote.

Will this case reach the Supreme Court of the United States? Oddly enough on Tuesday, SOTUS made a ruling of it own on a similar case. In an 8-1 decision the Court held that if police officers, after knocking loudly on someone ‘s door, hear sounds they construe as evidence being destroyed, they can knock down that door and enter without a search warrant. The lone dissenter in the case was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who contended that “[P]olice officers may not knock, listen and then break the door down without violating the 4th Amendment.” Justice Samuel Altio disagreed. “When law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen may do,” he wrote. “Destruction of evidence issues probably occur most frequently in drug cases because drugs may be easily destroyed by flushing [them] down a toilet.”

One might be forgiven for thinking the Fourth Amendment itself is being subjected to the same treatment in Indiana.

Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website


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  • PhillipGaley

    But, does "“bail.. prompt arraignment and determination of probable cause..the exclusionary rule…police department internal review and disciplinary procedure…and civil remedies.” do what the 4th Amendment intends, which is, to stop officer activity which is not protected by a warrant.
    But even if, we entirely dispense with English jurisprudential warrants (as in Mexico and Paraguay and in many other nations), can one reasonably suppose that, crime will be reduced? But much to the contrary, with constitutional erosions, growth in crime continues, apace; so, . . .

    • Travis Freeman

      I dont know what the big deal is .Our founding fathers just forgot to tell us that the constitution was just a joke, and so was the Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War. Some people just cant take a joke. We should trust what our goverment, when they tell us whats best for us, because we have no idea what is good for us. We need to also have numbers tatooed on us and the symbol of your religious beliefs on our clothes just for better identification. So relax its ok we can trust our goverment. Just look how much good they have done for our country today. NOT !!!!!!!!!

  • PhillipGaley

    And, in: ". . . . is against public policy and is incompatible with modern administrative rule . . . ."—therein, is not your case, which is, basically, no longer are we in a constitutional dispensation, rather are in the new era of whatever we feel is appropriate for all parties concerned?

  • Robert Laity


    • Jim_C

      Way to relate something completely unrelated to Obama, dingbat. Lord, why are there so many dingbats in this world?

      • Robert Laity

        It was the Indiana Supreme Court that ruled that Obama met the US Constitutional definition of a Natural-Born American,notwithstanding the fact that only SCOTUS could make such a ruling on the US Constitution.Now they are complicit in Obama's agenda to extinquish the Constitution's Bill of Rights. They are Obamatoids,pure and simple. The question you asked "Why are there so many dingbats in the world?" must be inwardly directed to yourself since you are a Journeyman "Dingbat". You must ask YOURSELF why you ar so airheaded.

        • Amused

          Get your head screwed on straight Laity . I know that's hard , but Indianas Copurt decision can be appealed , not to Obama but to SCOTUS . But of course Obama Hate Syndrome imbeciles like yourself , will look for anything to drag Obama into youyr arguments . Oh and BTW , the Birth Certificate , and the issue of Obama being a natural born citizen has been setlled , the Constitutionla definition and requirements satisfied ,and the actual document stuck up your noses , so stop being and idiot birther .

          • Robert Laity

            My point was that Indiana Judges are obtuse anti-constitutionalists. Obama has never been a Natural-Born American. A US BC does NOT make him so since his father was NOT even Naturalized.Obama,Sr. was a Brit.Obama,JR. was born with DUAL British citizenshipo under the British Nationality Act of 1948. The definition of an NBC ,which BTW has been UPHELD by SCOTUS in Minor v. Happersett is :One born IN a country of Parents who are BOTH citizens". YOU are wrong and you are still an airhead. Stop being complicit with Obama's fraud by defending his criminality.

          • sss

            you display your ignorance and racisim with great deftness.

    • Christian Dystopian

      SCOTUS is dominated by Republican CONSERVATIVE appointees who will. I agree, view favorably the Indiana Supreme Court decision. All efforts to distort the Constitution and rob us of Liberty are not Liberal Socialists. Many are Conservative Zealots.
      It was a Conservative President that brought us the "Department of Homeland Security." We don't get told of many of their horrible violations because they are allowed to declare their actions "Secret in the interest of national security."

  • Ronald W. Carnine

    I do not agree with gentlemen above in their reasonings about the 4th amendment. Domestic violence is one of the major incidents that result in the death or injury of police officers. The need for self preservation is very strong in such incidents. This goes hand in hand with the protection of the the spouse from violence within the home. If an officer arrives at a home in which a domestic disturbance is in progress he has the right to enter the home without a warrant to ensure the safety of the victim in such crimes. Without this ability to act victims of domestic violence are without aid in the preservation of safety. If the police officer misuses this needful exception there are very severe potential civil and criminal remedies. The 4th amendment is not violated by such behavior. Also, it is not unusual for the victim of domestic violence (usually the wife) to turn against the police when they try to arrest the husband. Never the less the officer must insure her safety even if it turns out later that she does not want such protection. If the husband doesn't want the officers in his home to turn to violence against the police is a crime. I, personally, have never seen a police officer misuse this exception in order to gain entry into a private dwelling. Most officers don't want to be there and would much rather be doing something else. If the 4th amendment was meant to eliminate such incursions into an individuals private property, the incidents of injury to the woman would sky rocket. The fact that the police have been called to the residence (either by the victim or by a witness) indicates that the conflict had already escalated beyond beyond a disagreement. Police officers who refuse to enter a residence because they don't have a warrant, leave themselves open to civil and criminal penalties because they didn't act to preserve life and well being.

    • sodizzy

      I like that if the police have reasonable cause they can go in, especially to save a life.

    • It's over

      There was no domestic violence. Read the ruling. both parties were outside the house arguing. They were in close proximity to one another. The woman openly admitted that no violence had occured. The police took it upon himself to enter the home, and Barnes correctly resisted the unlawful entry of his home. There are numerous cases of police breaking into the wrong home and murdering completely innocent people. What recourse does a dead person have? This ruling says in plaing language that if the police break the law, there is nothing you can do to protect yourself. An unlawful entry is a criminal act. Proctection against criminals with the use of force is a fundamental right. We now officially live in a police state.

    • Dawn

      The problem being is that the new "law" does not sat that it can be used in instances of domestic violence or hostage sutuations. It covers everything and anything they want.

    • Michael Scott

      There are NOT substantial reprocussions for applying this expecption outside of truly legal and necessary cases; there aren't effective limits and thus there is little ground for suit. As much as people may claim there are civil penalties for misusing this exception there are no examples to indicate that this is true. I will defend unlawful entry with whatever means necessary without identifying the offender because this is my only effective recourse – and I'm not alone. This is ruby ridge policy at the top level and it's bad for everyone. Please do not confuse the precident set by the scope of the ruling for the case which opened the door.

    • nob

      it was clear they witnessed no crime just arguing

    • Scott

      I agree with you, however, the court has no reason to say that the rest of us don't have a right to resist unlawful entry, search, or seizure. The ruling should have simply been, Barnes had no legal right to resist, case closed. Don't erode the 4th Amendment just because one criminal tries to use it to get away. Police officers who abuse the citizens they swore to protect and serve are criminals as well.

  • davarino

    So arguing out in the parking lot is illegal now? I didnt hear anything about violence here. It doesnt sound like any crime was committed and yet just because the couple went into their house the cop gets to follow them? This is a clear errosion of the 4th amendment for expediancy.

    This could have free speech implications, where there is no aguing in political discourse.

    • Scott

      No however one could say this would be considered an anoyance or disturbing the peace both of which are agianst the law in many places so when the officer arives to deal with the issue they atempt to flee inside their residence and slam a door on him. What other recourse does he have but to assume that the issue has esculated and that possible bodily harm may come to one or both of the individuals inside I understand this is a grey area however when there is just cause such as in this instance where harm may come to someone this really is not a change from before ie. (if an officer happens to be patroling and sees your front door wide when he knows this isint somthign he normaly sees should he pass it by or stop and investigate to make sure someone isint robbing you blind? i personaly would rather him stop anounce he is an officer and proceed inside than drive on by) ist not like they didint know he was an officer or even why he was there btu in doing what they did is the same as resisting arrest or evading an officer

      • ajnn

        the doctrine of 'hot pursuit' ? i think this deals with your hypothetical.

  • Ronald W. Carnine

    davarino, I didn't see any place in the article where it says the couple was arguing in the parking lot. A police officer who comes upon such behavior has the right to detain an individual to determine if a crime has or is going to be committed. If the couple was just having a calm discussion then the officer was wrong. But that is not what happened. The officer acted correctly in this case. Your home, house or apartment, is not "home base". Once I get in my door doesn't mean the officer must freeze. Domestic violence doesn't always require physical injury to be unlawful. Domestic battery laws are a bit different than some other laws. But from your argument you can see why officers don't like domestic disturbances. It's a damned if you do or damned if you don't. The officers behavior was deemed reasonable. The constitution speaks to "unreasonable" search and seizure. The free speech argument wasn't raised and so this action doesn't have free speech implications. The cops were doing their job and they were doing it correctly. I don't agree with the author's contention that the 4th amendment was in any way gutted. The article is misleading in its very title. Enough said. I'm a retired police officer and I've never seen it decided any other way. The 4th amendment still stands offering it's protection to those who need it. It might be helpful for you to see why we historically have the 4th amendment in the first place.

    • scott

      exactly Ron thank you for wording it and spelling much better than i can lol

    • Sheepdog

      [Quote] The case began as a domestic squabble between Richard Barnes and his wife Mary, who were arguing outside their apartment in Vanderburgh County. It escalated when police arrived and the couple attempted to close the door on the officer who tried to follow them into their home. [Quote from article]
      So now it's illegal to argue in public? This ruling is just another slap in the face to our Constitution. Pretty soon they will start no-knock searches again.

    • Scott

      When you have the courts stating things such as "you don't have a right to resist unlawful entry" then you can plainly see erosion. Further than that…an 8-1 in favor of saying we don't have the right to resist also serves as evidence against your assertion that there was no erosion. On a related issue, different story. I can show you a city council meeting where the city officials wanted the citizens to hand over the keys to their apartments and put them in an emergency lock box outside of their apartments and businesses. I can see what's happening here, there is a battle of ideologies at play here, one side says we can be responsible citizens and enjoy freedom, the other says you aren't smart enough or good enough to have real freedom so we have to protect you at the expense of liberty and freedom. Which side do you want to be on? The one asking for our keys? Asking us to submit to whatever they say? Or the side which resist such tyrannical ideology and maintains its freedom and civilized way of life?

  • John

    Now if this were about Sharia Law or some other Muslim issue CAIR and the Federal activists judges would be coming out of the woodwork to strike it down and defend the cretans. Where are our Federal judges now when the Constitution they swore to defend is being infringed upon? Not a word. The DOJ. Not a word. They are happy about it. This country is slowly coming back to the people and we are not happy at what our country is being allowed to degenerate to.

  • NStahl

    Well, that's that. If I see a cop or public official in trouble I see nothing. I call no one. Let 'em rot.

  • mahaska

    The key to entering a dwelling w/o warrant is called the presence of exergent
    circumstance, that is a knowledge of the LEO that violence is or will be executed
    if entry is delayed. As far as loss of evidence is concerned, the same rule applies
    however he better be able to articulate it in his report in order to CYA…. Stay safe
    out there people, its a very bad world.

    • ajnn

      1. exigent circumstances

      2. knowledge / reasonable suspician a crime is being committed

      3. destruction of property is a crime only when the destroyer has no ownership of the proprerty. if the owner destroys relevant evidence before a crime is charged, ther destruction is not a crime.

  • tanstaafl

    I better start building that "safe room", before it becomes illegal.

  • Seth Bullock

    I live in Indiana, and this bs sickens me. Between this and the defunding of Planned Parenthood (despite most of their services not being about abortion), we can all watch Indiana de-evolve. I get the feeling this all's about Mitch Daniels playing for prez.

    I am a political independent.

    • Supreme_Galooty

      You might be an independent, but Planned Parenthood should raise its own money without resorting to STEALING via political extortion. I suggest you pull your head out of your rosy red rectum and eschew that milquetoast facade of being "independent."

      Kiss my wrist.

    • Bill

      Seth, many folks do not believe in killing human life, whether it is born yet or not. To take money from people and give it to others to kill human life is not fair to those who do not believe that it is right.

  • J.S.

    As a Hoosier, let me be the first to openly announce that the State of Indiana has just declared war upon its citizenry with the abrogation not only of the national Constitution, but of the Constitution of the State of Indiana, which doubly guarantees the right to be secure in persons and effects. Does the State of Indiana wish to avoid rivers of blood running in the streets? Unless they immediate rescind and repeal this bit of malevolent jurisprudence, they will have it. Wars have been fought over far less than this.

  • vlparker

    I would expect a ruling like this from my home state of the People's Republic of Illinois, but I thought Indiana had more sense.

  • Amused

    Gutting of The Fourth Amendment ? Are you serious ? First off , the cops were right in entering , and as soon as an officer was touched , the arrest VALID . Any of you legal eagle try arguing with a cop over a ticket , and put your finger in his chest – you're going to jail . In this case the argument was a public disturbance with a possibility of domestic violence .Depending on the level of the argument the guy could have slammed the door and then stabbed his wife , [or vice-versa ] then everyone would be screaming the cops didn't do enough . This has got nothing to do with free speech , ASSAULT AND BATTERY does not necessarrily involve hitting anyone , getting in someones face and issuing a threat of bodily harm is assault and battery . This is a stawman argument with a motive , if i 've ever saw one . CHILL ! .

    • mworthington.

      Amused! Harsh Language is now a crime! Looking wrong is a crime! What's next? Thinking wrong! You need to move to North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen. I don't even think you understand the word Liberty. You and RWC need to move in together therfor support each others BS.

    • mwll

      he only put his hands on the cop after he entered his home. cops are allowed to enter your home if they see you breaking the law, arguing with your wife is NOT breaking the law. the cops were completely out of line

    • guest

      The very job of "POLICING" will be coming to an end very soon!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Supreme_Galooty

    Congratulations to Bemused who managed to make a cogent point without insulting anyone. Not an all time first, but worthy of recognition.

  • Diracplus

    I think many of you have missed the point of the article completely. It does not matter whether the officer had probable cause to enter Mr. Barnes' home or not, the state supreme court ruled that we have no right to resist UNLAWFUL entry by police into our homes by any means. If this is allowed to stand, police have the power to demand to search your house, your car, your person, etc without probable cause and any refusal (resistance) could be construed as illegal. A person's only recourse would exist in legal action AFTER an unlawful search took place.

  • Amused

    The law determines probable cause .Yes probably after the fact .However if a citizen resists , and heightens the possibility of violence to the police or public , that would be just as illegal if there were no probable cause . Thats why the man got arrested .Everyone gets their day in court .Police do not have the power to search your house without a warrent , or your car , or your person , UNLESS there is probable cause , The Indiana Court merely reiterated what already was , the man arrested had a right to bring his case before that court ,and it ruled in accordance with the Constitution and it was not outside any existing or pre-existing precedents .

  • Amused

    Now wait a minute Diracplus , you are engaging in circular reasoning .The man is claiming that the officer engaged in an unlawful act . And it has been Constitutionally determined that the officer DID NOT act in an unlawful manner , however Barnes DID , by pushing the officer . In the case described , no there is NO reasonable resistrance to police authority , probable cause was a moot point , so what argument does this guy have ? Besides that , if it went to the Indiana Supreme Court , that means all lower court must have reacheds the same conclusion .
    Exampler cop pulls up alongside your car , smoke from that joint your smoking blows right in his window , so he pulls you over , and wants to search you AND your car , but when he goes to open the door you shove the cop ….you're going to jail , you have no case , no argument for reasonable resistance ,,why , because probable cause has been established .
    So iyts tough nuggies for Mr .Barnes , he got what he deserved …LEGALLY within the law and the framework of the Constitution .

    • Diracplus

      The court made no ruling on the actions of the officer. And it did overturn the appeals court ruling that it was an error not to allow Mr. Barnes to make his argument.
      Here's an example of what no reasonable resistance can really mean. Let's say I live in some city of Indiana. A police officer comes to my home, knocks on my door and says, "Move out of the way, I'm going to search your home." He produces no warrant, so I respond to him by saying, "You cannot enter my home." In Indiana I have now just committed an unlawful act.
      This is the essence of where you and I differ, I believe that I am entitled to resist unlawful actions by those in authority, and to allow a jury to determine if my actions are justified. You and the supreme court of Indiana believe that any resistance to their authority is in and of itself unlawful, regardless if the authority is or is not acting lawfully themselves.
      Mr. Barnes may or may not have gotten what he deserves for his actions that day. What he did not receive was justice, the chance to justify his behavior to a jury of his peers, and allow them to decide if his actions were proper in response to unlawful police action, or improper to lawful police action.

    • JTK

      Um WHAT!? Your examples show you have absolutely no idea what your talking about. The cop was already inside the house when Barnes pushed him, not "reaching for the door". Also, smoking a joint while driving, and blowing the smoke out the window, IS COMPLETELY different than a husband and wife having an argument outside their house. If the wife was in any danger she could have left with the police, or said something to them, and she didn't. Try to be a little more off.

  • iwannaeat2

    No one with any common sense is arguing about the incidences where there is PROBABLE CAUSE. The problem comes in when someone who is presumed to (or should be) innocent of committing any violation of law. A law enforcement agent or any agent of the state/government should not have the right to enter a person's home without having secured a warrant. I am highly alarmed that so many think this is a just ruling.

  • http://NA hARRY

    Sorry, the court is wrong. they way they put it however as was the case in this case, Police do have the right to enter a home if they know something is going on, as in this case, a fight. That is just reasonable.

  • amomma

    Have any of you been in a court room lately? I have, and the courts of this land are nothing but a joke. I saw a man who beat his son, and admited it, walk out of a court room with nothing more than a $200 fine, he got all visitation rights back, was not ordered any parenting classes ect… If you want to leave your freedoms and God given rights in the hands of a screwed up court system, have at it. But I think bit by bit our freedoms are being taken away and when will there be people willing to stand up and fight for the freedoms we once had and what this country was founded on. This is rediculous, our forefathers would turn over in their graves if they could see where this land has gone.

  • mworthington.

    RWC Why don't you just go to Washingtion DC and ask to destroy the Bill of Rights and the Constitution! Then whenever a legal issue arises you make a decision on what ever feels good or seem right to who ever. Who ever is in charge state by state, County by County, City by City. You should have been aborted at birth.

    • ajnn

      You misunderstand.

      I was pointing out the flaws in the gentleman affirming the decision. He claims we should trust the police in this type of situation because they have a record of excelllent decisionmaking. I respond by pointing out that their decision here, charging the man with multiple felonies, demonstrated very bad judgment.

  • Bill

    I was subject to a police officer pull me over at 4 a.m. as I was leaviing for work early on a trip to Chicago. I asked what his "probable cause" was and his reply was "anything I want it to be". The officer can assume anything he wants as "probable cause" to now enter your home and use his own judgement, good or bad and THAT is why we need SEARCH WARRANTS.

    Do you KNOW any officers who excercise BAD judgement?

  • John

    What do you expect it is Indiana. Where a porsucuter told that police purgery is how the system works. Just keep voting for the republicans and you won't have any freedoms left unless you are a corporation.

    • Unknown

      America is a corp..think about it… have to have building permits to build something…have to have a lisence or you can't drive…and insurance or you get arrested…things that can't be "taxed" are outlawed….and banks and oil companies own almost everything…..

    • Teresa

      Actually the republicans are the ones who want less government interference and more human rights, not the democrats.

  • joshua

    this country is going to hell. These people are supposed to be our servants not our masters and our authorities. whats next an American Gestapo?

  • joshua

    just let them in your house let them body scan you and stick their fingers in your one year olds diaper

  • anel sneefer

    word to your mama

  • asdasd

    Where is Richard Barnes ????

    So Barnes are you going to re petition the court by June 13 ??? Lets get going on this, like it or not you are critical to us challenging this ruling???

    Get a laywer and get moving, if not that makes you a real villian in the story

    There is no room for complacency in democracy

  • abrinaus

    "a domestic squabble between Richard Barnes and his wife Mary, who were arguing outside their apartment" How many have not had a squabble or two with there loved ones? hmmmmm The husband and wife both entered the apartment and tried to close there door. The police officer forced his way in slamming the husband against the wall in the process. With all of the fake cops out there now a days, how the heck was he was suppose to know this guy forcing his way in was real or not. So he retaliated and shoved back. All I can say is I am glad I live in Texas.

  • Robert

    This is just another example of a poor ruling by a judiciary body allowed to rule like a supreme monarch no matter what the future consequences.

  • Calvin Crabtree

    so all of this happend outside? why didnt the officer spearate the two, make them sit down, keep the situation under controll and keep the peace.

    my questions are,
    who called the police
    where there any visable injarys to the woman or man
    was there wepons involved or seen
    was there an accual physacal fight outside of the home that witness saw?
    was the coupple just haveing a bad day.
    did the police try to obtane the distrubance outside or did they want to wait to gain entry to the home to see what eles they could “find”

  • lilliebaugh

    this is the worst thing i have ever read when did it become ok for police to barge into your home

  • Ringoxxx

    If as the article suggests, the couple was “outside” in public, and attempted to seek refuge after the police arrived, the couple would be evading police in escaping to their home. As this was a domestic dispute the officers had every reason to believe that one spouse may do harm to the other. If nothing else exigent circumstances would have allowed the officers to enter without a warrant.

    • Bri

      That has to do with probable cause, which isn’t what is at issue here. This is specifically about officers without probable cause illegally entering a domicile.

  • Bri

    I’d like to see this go to the SCOTUS, any updates on this case?