You canât come in.â Yet police arrested him on charges of domestic violence. Later, once Fernandez was out of the home, police asked Rojas for permission to conduct a search, which yielded evidence implicating Fernandez in the robbery.
The Courtâs decision justified the police actions, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the majorityâs position.
âA warrantless consent search is reasonable and thus consistent with the Fourth Amendment irrespective of the availability of a warrant,â Alito wrote. He added that âdenying someone in Rojasâ position the right to allow the police to enter her home would also show disrespect for her independence.â
Alito was joined in the majority by Justices Breyer, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg â joined in the minority by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, marking a gender divide among the Justices in the case â wrote the dissenting opinion, calling the decision a blow to the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits âunreasonable searches and seizures.â
âInstead of adhering to the warrant requirement,â Ginsburg wrote, âtodayâs decision tells the police they may dodge it, nevermind ample time to secure the approval of a neutral magistrate.â Tuesdayâs ruling, she added, âshrinks to petite size our holding in Georgia v. Randolph.â
Georgia v. Randolph was a similar case the Supreme Court addressed in 2006, in which a domestic violence suspect would not allow police to enter his home, though his wife did offer police consent. The police ultimately entered the home. The Court ruled in the case that the manâs refusal while being present in the home should have kept authorizes from entering.
âA physically present inhabitantâs express refusal of consent to a police search [of his home] is dispositive as to him, regardless of the consent of a fellow occupant,â the majority ruled in that case.
In addressing Randolph in the majority opinion, Alito wrote that the difference between that case and Fernandez was the physical presence of the suspect.
âOur opinion in Randolph took great pains to emphasize that its holding was limited to situations in which the objecting occupant is physically present,â he wrote. âWe therefore refuse to extend Randolph to the very different situation in this case, where consent was provided by an abused woman well after her male partner had been removed from the apartment they shared.â
Prior to Randolph and Fernandez, the Court ruled in the 1974 case United States v. Matlock that any one of the co-tenants in a home can consent to a police search of the premises.