Fourth Amendment

‘Poverty Exception’ Appeal Mulled


Welfare applicants in San Diego are weighing whether to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their suit contending that unannounced searches of their homes violate the Fourth Amendment.

The full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to rehear their case in April, leaving in place a panel ruling upholding the effort to root out welfare fraud, Adam Liptak writes in a column for the New York Times (sub. req.).

Applicants will not get benefits unless they allow the searches by investigators from the San Diego District Attorney’s office. The investigators are looking for evidence of a man in the homes of welfare applicants who claim to be single.

Jordan Budd represented the plaintiffs when he was legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego. He is now a law professor at the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H.

“The poor are presumed guilty, presumed lazy and presumed to be trying to gain something they don’t deserve,” Budd told the newspaper. “It’s a general poverty exception to the Fourth Amendment.”

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