Monday, November 17, 2008

Conservative Win In The SJC

Commonwealth v. Santiago, SJC No. 10117, is significant insomuch as it is a decision by the highest court in Massachusetts about search warrants. The issue is whether the 4th Amendment requires police to knock when they know their target has a BB gun and pit bulls. The majority held that the 4th Amendment does not require police to knock.

But what is far more interesting is that this is the first case since Justice Botsford joined the Court in which the conservative-leaning wing of the Court can claim a clear victory. Chief Justice Marshall, Justice Ireland, and Justice Botsford all dissented in this case. And dissents are a relative rarity in the SJC. Dissents by any of those three justices are very, very rare.

For those who care, this probably doesn't portend a massive shift rightward by our high court. But it does remind us that yes, there are some more conservative justices sitting on the SJC and every now and then they're going to have enough votes to win. This isn't necessarily bad news for those of us who lean left. It's just what a healty justice system looks like.

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