On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit issued a ruling on the sort of issue you’d hope a federal appeals court would never need to rule on — whether the government should be allowed to use SWAT-style tactics to perform regulatory inspections.
At issue were a series of police raids on barbershops around the city of Orlando. The raids were basically fishing operations for drug crimes and to recruit confidential informants. All of the raided shops were black- or Hispanic-owned. The problem is that, because they were fishing expeditions, the police didn’t have enough evidence to obtain a warrant. Instead, the police asked an occupational license office to send along an inspector. Voila! These were no longer drug raids. For the purposes of the Fourth Amendment, they were now officially licensure inspections that just happened to include armored cops storming the businesses as if they were harboring an ISIS sleeper cell.