House Strikes Measure Opposing 'Knock and Announce' Searches

The House rejected a liberal Democrat's bid to undercut a recent Supreme Court decision permitting evidence obtained in violation of the "knock and announce" rule to be used at trial.

The vote came two weeks after the court ruled that evidence seized by police with a warrant who barge into homes even if they don't knock can be used in court.

By a 310-109 vote Wednesday, the House rejected an amendment by Congressman Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat, blocking the Justice Department from obtaining evidence in violation of the knock and announce rule. The vote came as the House debated a $59.8 billion (euro47.6 billion) measure funding the budget of the Justice Department and other agencies.

"The knock and announce policy is enshrined in the Constitution ... ," Hinchey said. "It is held up by numerous Supreme Court decisions over the last 100 years."

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Civil libertarians have predicted that police will now feel free to ignore previous court rulings that officers with search warrants must knock and announce themselves or run afoul of the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches.

During a brief debate, Republican floor manager Frank Wolf argued that "we ought not on the floor of the House ... overrule a Supreme Court decision."

Congressman David Obey, a Democrat, retorted that Republicans voted to undercut the Supreme Court's decision last year to permit local governments to use eminent domain to force owners to sell their property for private economic development.