Petitions of the week: Warrantless home searches, border-wall funding and more


Posted Wed, September 2nd, 2020 4:48 pm by Andrew Hamm

This week we highlight cert petitions that ask the Supreme Court to decide whether police, without a warrant, may enter a home and remove weapons under a “community caretaking” exception and whether Congress authorized the Trump administration’s spending on the U.S.-Mexico border wall. In Caniglia v. Strom, officers questioned Edward Caniglia at his home after his wife expressed concern that he might be suicidal. They took him to a hospital and then entered the home and removed two handguns. The officers’ justification for the entry and seizures was the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. The Supreme Court’s first case recognizing that exception, Cady v. Dombrowski, involved officers searching the trunk of a car towed after an accident. Since then the federal courts of appeals have divided on whether the exception applies to the home or only to motor vehicles. Caniglia filed a cert petition, asking the Supreme Court to resolve this split and hold that the exception cannot justify warrantless intrusions inside a home.

Trump v. Sierra Club is a challenge to President Donald Trump’s border wall. As SCOTUSblog previously reported, the Supreme Court in July declined to lift a stay that has allowed the federal government to continue to spend funds on construction of the wall while the legal challenge continues. Much of the funding for the wall comes from money that the Pentagon reallocated from other sources. The opponents of the wall argue that the administration lacks the power to spend more than Congress already allocated for border security. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed with the challengers, the federal government in August filed a cert petition, asking the Supreme Court to rule directly on the issue.

These and other petitions of the week are below the jump:

Silver v. United States
Issues: Whether a public official can be convicted of bribery absent proof of an agreed exchange with the alleged bribe payor, based solely on his unexpressed, unilateral state of mind when receiving a benefit; (2) whether a conviction for Hobbs Act extortion can be based on a theory of simple bribery; and (3) whether, if the government elects not to argue harmless error, a court of appeals may raise harmless error sua sponte, without providing the defendant any opportunity to be heard on the issue.

Dozier v. United States
Issue: Whether an offense is “punishable by imprisonment for more than one year” when the maximum term permitted by the applicable statutory sentencing scheme at the time of conviction is one year or less.

Trump v. Sierra Club
Issues: (1) Whether respondents have a cognizable cause of action to obtain review of the acting secretary of defense’s compliance with a proviso in Section 8005 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act that the secretary’s authority to transfer funds internally between DOD appropriations accounts “may not be used unless for higher priority items, based on unforeseen military requirements, than those for which originally appropriated and in no case where the item for which funds are requested has been denied by the Congress”; and (2) whether in 2019 the acting secretary exceeded his statutory authority under Section 8005 by transferring approximately $2.5 billion in response to a request from the Department of Homeland Security for counterdrug assistance under 10 U.S.C. 284, including in the form of construction of fences along the southern border of the United States.

Caniglia v. Strom
Issue: Whether the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement extends to the home.

Stanback v. Humphrey
Issue: Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit contradicted a fundamental principle of the Supreme Court’s qualified-immunity precedent when it denied qualified immunity to the petitioners, Rita Stanback and Frank Tennant, on the grounds that their challenged conduct violated clearly established law and premised its determination solely upon cases that were decided after the petitioners’ challenged conduct.

Stair v. Jackson
Issues: (1) Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit departed from the Supreme Court’s decisions in Graham v. Connor and Plumhoff v. Rickard in denying qualified immunity to the petitioner, Billy Stair, based upon the absence of a constitutional violation by assessing the reasonableness of each of three Taser activations over a 19-second period, instead of assessing the reasonableness of Stair’s conduct in light of the totality of the circumstances; and (2) whether the 8th Circuit departed from the Supreme Court’s decision in Kisela v. Hughes and numerous other cases by denying qualified immunity even though two judges concluded the use of force was reasonable, and notwithstanding the absence of clearly established law imposing liability under circumstances closely analogous to those confronting Stair.

Posted in Trump v. Sierra Club, Silver v. U.S., Dozier v. U.S., Caniglia v. Strom, Stanback v. Humphrey, Stair v. Jackson, Featured, Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: Andrew Hamm, Petitions of the week: Warrantless home searches, border-wall funding and more, SCOTUSblog (Sep. 2, 2020, 4:48 PM),

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