FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2, 2023
Ohio Cities Cannot Gut Search Warrant Requirement
North Canton’s crusade for warrants to enter homes based solely on lack of consent from homeowners is unconstitutional.
Stark County, OH – The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today moved to stop attempts by the City of North Canton to obtain boilerplate search warrants green-lighting forced search of local homes.
The action is brought on behalf of Canton-area landlords Eric and Lila Wohlwend and their tenants. The City brought suit against the Wohlwends to obtain a search warrant covering the entirety of their property after they simply declined to consent to such an inspection.
Through its Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, the 1851 Center explains that the Ohio Constitution requires true “probable cause” of a significant threat to others before courts may issue a search warrant to conduct a sweeping inspection of Ohioans’ homes.
“Ohioans maintain a fundamental right to use their own property in ways that don’t inflict harm others. This right includes the right to exclude public officials from intruding into their homes and rifling through every square foot of their kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms for no reason other than ‘just to check things out,’” explained 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson. “Tenants aren’t second-class citizens without rights: they’re entitled to the same privacy and security from government overreach as those who own their homes, and sham warrants cannot be used to violate their rights any more than entirely warrantless searches.”
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law protected Ohioans’ privacy and property rights by stopping warrantless rental and point-of-sale inspections of homes across Ohio through victories in Baker v. Portsmouth, Pund v. Bedford, and Thompson v. Oakwood.
“A finding of ‘probable cause’ to issue a warrant to rifle through Ohioans’ homes and issue arbitrary punch lists to homeowners, solely because a homeowner does not consent to that search, would entirely undermine the protections provided by the warrant requirement: a fortification against arbitrary, invasive, and harassing government intrusions onto their property, and especially into their homes,” added Thompson.
The case is pending before Judge Farmer in the Court of Common Pleas for Stark County, Ohio.
Read the 1851 Center’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings here.
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is a nonprofit, nonpartisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse. The 1851 Center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, regulation, taxation, and searches and seizures.