Breaking News
Investing Pro 0
💎 Access the Market Tools Trusted by Thousands of Investors Get Started

With the elderly in mind, U.S. Supreme Court wary of limiting police in home entries

Published Mar 24, 2021 01:17PM ET Updated Mar 24, 2021 02:00PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building at sunset in Washington 2/2
Add to/Remove from Watchlist
Add to Watchlist
Add Position

Position added successfully to:

Please name your holdings portfolio

By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court justices returned to the contentious issue of police powers on Wednesday as they grappled with whether to make it easier for officers to enter a home without a warrant for reasons of health or public safety in a case involving the confiscation of a Rhode Island man's guns.

During arguments in the case, several justices seemed wary of impeding officers from quickly responding to grave situations in which a person might be injured or die, using examples of people who are suicidal or elderly people who may need help. Some justices, however, questioned how they could ensure that police would not abuse expanded powers to act without a warrant.

The man, Edward Caniglia, appealed a lower court ruling throwing out his lawsuit accusing police of violating his constitutional rights by bringing him to a hospital for a mental health evaluation and taking away his guns without a warrant after a 2015 argument with his wife.

Lower courts ruled that police in the Rhode Island city of Cranston did not violate the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

There is heightened public scrutiny of police conduct, including how authorities deal with mentally ill people, in the wake of protests in many cities last year against racism and police brutality.

Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the case highlights two common situations - older people falling and suicides - in which imposing heightened requirements on police would cause them to back away instead of acting quickly.

"The longer you're in the house and no one comes to get you, you're more likely to die from the fall. The statistics are huge on older people dying from falls," Kavanaugh told Caniglia's attorney, Shay Dvoretzky.

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor raised doubts about giving police the authority to judge the severity of any situation on their own without, for instance, the advice of mental health experts.

"Tell me, what is the limiting principle?" Sotomayor asked an attorney representing Cranston.

President Joe Biden's administration backed police in the case. A Justice Department lawyer told the justices that officers should not be required to obtain warrants in situations in which people could be seriously harmed.

In a separate case on police powers, Supreme Court justices last month appeared reluctant to give police unlimited power to enter a home without a warrant when pursuing a suspect for a minor crime.

The Rhode Island case arose from a domestic dispute. An argument between Caniglia and his wife Kim that began over a Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) World coffee mug swirled into a disagreement about her extended family, according to court papers. At one point, Caniglia retrieved a gun and asked his wife to shoot him to "get me out of my misery," according to court papers.

She decided to spend the night at a hotel, then called police because she feared her husband could be suicidal.

Caniglia, 70, sued the city and the police. The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's decision to dismiss the case. The 1st Circuit concluded that even if the dispute did not constitute an emergency, the police conduct was justified under a legal doctrine that gives officers leeway to engage in "community caretaking" to ensure public safety.

The Supreme Court has applied this doctrine to vehicles, but the 1st Circuit decided it can apply to the home as well.

Caniglia said in court papers he had no criminal history and no record of violence or misuse of guns. Police returned his guns only after he sued.

With the elderly in mind, U.S. Supreme Court wary of limiting police in home entries

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.
  • Any comment you publish, together with your profile, will be public on and may be indexed and available through third party search engines, such as Google.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email