Court Permits Police to Keep Suspects Outside Pending Warrants WASHINGTON Giving the police new powers to search and seize evidence, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that officers could briefly stop suspects from entering their own homes while the officers get a search warrant. The conservative-controlled high court ruled that the brief seizure of the premises was permissible under the U.S. Constitution, given the nature of the intrusion and the law enforcement interests at stake. The 8-1 decision added to a number of rulings in recent years that have sided with the police and narrowed privacy protections under the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures of evidence. The ruling was a victory for Illinois prosecutors, who argued that the police needed to keep a drug suspect from destroying marijuana inside his trailer home. The case began April 2, 1997, when Tera McArthur asked two police officers in Sullivan, Illinois, to accompany her to the trailer where she had lived with her estranged husband, Charles McArthur, so they could keep the peace while she removed her belongings. When she came outside with her possessions, she told one officer her husband had marijuana under the couch. An officer knocked on the door, and Mr. McArthur came outside. The officer asked permission to search the trailer, but Mr. McArthur refused. The other officer went to get a search warrant. The remaining officer told Mr. McArthur he could not re-enter the trailer unless the officer accompanied him. Mr. McArthur went inside several times to get cigarettes and make telephone calls, and the officer stood just inside the door to observe what he did. It took about two hours to get a warrant. The officers then conducted a search and found marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Mr. McArthur was charged with possessing less than 2.5 grams of marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors. Writing for the court majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said the police had probable cause to believe that the home contained evidence of a crime and unlawful drugs. He said the police had good reason to fear that Mr. McArthur would destroy the drugs before they could return with a warrant. "And they imposed a restraint that was both limited and tailored reasonably to secure law enforcement needs while protecting privacy interests," Mr. Breyer concluded. Only Justice John Paul Stevens dissented. He said the case involved a balancing of privacy interests against law enforcement concerns.