On February 24, 2021 the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Lange v. California. The question before the court was whether the pursuit of a person whom a police officer has probable cause to believe has committed a misdemeanor categorically qualifies as an exigent circumstance sufficient to allow the officer to enter a home without a warrant. In this case, Arthur Lange was driving home on the highway in Sonoma, California when police pursued Lange with the intention of conducting a traffic stop. Police followed Lange home and activated their overhead lights once Lange pulled into his home's driveway. Lange pulled into his garage and the garage door began closing behind him. Police approached Lange and stopped the garage from closing with his foot. After brief questioning as to whether Lange knew he was being pursued, police stated they smelled alcohol on Lange's breath and charged Lange with driving under the influence.
The trial court concluded that the officer had probable cause, denied the motion to suppress, and issued a conviction for Lange. Later, a civil court ruled that Lange's arrest was unlawful and an appellate court ruled that the arrest was lawful. On appeal to the California First District Court of Appeal, the court affirmed the conviction.
Vikrant Reddy, Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute and Clark Neily, Vice President for Criminal Justice at the Cato Institute, join us today to discuss this argument and its implications.