Georgia v. Randolph: So what do police do now?
Justice Souter, in alluding to the chief justice's complaint that the majority did not address what would happen if there were a third household occupant involved, said, "We decide the case before us, not a different one."
But both Justice Souter and the chief justice agreed that factual differences that might appear trivial to a layman, or the fruit of nothing more than pure luck, could be all-important in court.
Justice Souter wrote that "we have to admit that we are drawing a fine line; if a potential defendant with self-interest in objecting is in fact at the door and objects, the co-tenant's permission does not suffice for a reasonable search, whereas the potential objector, nearby but not invited to take part in the threshold colloquy, loses out."
Chief Justice Roberts saw the same possibilities, to his dismay. "What the majority's rule protects is not so much privacy as the good luck of a co-owner who just happens to be present at the door when the police arrive," he wrote.
Had the majority decided logically, the chief justice said, it would have found that, just as Mrs. Randolph could turn her husband's drugs over to the police, "she can consent to police entry and search of what is, after all, her home, too."