“In the per curiam opinion in LA County v. Retelle (PDF), we get a nice discussion of racial harmony in the context of naked white people being awakened early in the morning by cops executing a search warrant on a house that was previously owned by black criminal suspects.”
From the Court’s unsigned opinion, joined by seven justices:
“Because respondents were of a different race than the suspects the deputies were seeking, the Court of Appeals held that ‘[a]fter taking one look at [respondents], the deputies should have realized that [respondents] were not the subjects of the search warrant and did not pose a threat to the deputies’ safety.’ We need not pause long in rejecting this unsound proposition.”
“When the deputies ordered respondents from their bed, they had no way of knowing whether the African-American suspects were elsewhere in the house. The presence of some Caucasians in the residence did not eliminate the possibility that the suspects lived there as well. As the deputies stated in their affidavits, it is not uncommon in our society for people of different races to live together. Just as people of different races live and work together, so too might they engage in joint criminal activity. The deputies, who were searching a house where they believed a suspect might be armed, possessed authority to secure the premises before deciding whether to continue with the search.”
The SCOTUS reverses the Ninth Circuit? Happens multiple times each Term. Boring.
The SCOTUS summarily reverses the Ninth Circuit, in a per curiam opinion? Happens a few times each Term. Uninteresting.
The Supreme Court benchslaps the Ninth Circuit, for not being politically correct enough? PRICELESS.
(For more substantive analysis of Rettele, check out this post, by Orin Kerr.)
Los Angeles County v. Rettele [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
Supreme Court Reverses Ninth Circuit in Out-of-Bed-Naked Search Warrant Case [Volokh Conspiracy via SCOTUSblog]