Supreme Court Plans Second Debate on Police Searches

The Supreme Court said Wednesday it will schedule a special argument session so the newest justice can join in deciding a police search case.

Justice Samuel Alito's vote apparently is needed to break a tie in the case, which asks whether evidence can be used from the search of a Detroit man's house because police did not bother knocking before they rushed in.

The case was argued the first time at the court on Jan. 9 — three weeks before Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired and was replaced by Alito.

O'Connor seemed ready to rule against police. "Is there no policy protecting the home owner a little bit?" she asked during the argument.

Alito could vote differently than O'Connor. He often has deferred to police in cases he handled as a judge on a federal appeals court.

The state of Michigan, which is backed by the Bush administration, argued that even though officers made a mistake by rushing into Booker Hudson's home, the blunder was not related to the finding of the drugs and should not require a judge to bar the evidence.

Justices have had to reschedule two other cases that were argued when O'Connor was on the court but not resolved before her departure. Those involve a Kansas death penalty law and government whistleblowers.

The Detroit case will be reargued in the next month, with a decision before July.

The case is Hudson v. Michigan, 04-1360.