The case arose after a Georgia woman, Janet Randolph, called police to say her husband had absconded with their son. When officers arrived, she told them he was also a cocaine user. About that time, Scott Randolph showed up, said he had taken the boy for fear she would spirit him out of the country, and denied using drugs.
One of the police, who had no search warrant, asked the husband if he could search the house. He said no. So the officer asked the wife, who obliged.
The cop went in and found a straw coated with a powdery substance. When Scott was indicted for cocaine possession, he argued that the search was invalid because he had refused consent.
The trial court rejected the claim because, it said, his wife had authority to admit police to their joint residence. But the Supreme Court took a different view: While she could have let them in when her husband was absent, he was present, and therefore had the right to bar their entry. Only if there was an emergency, such as the threat of domestic violence, could the cops enter over his objection.
Who's to determine what constitutes an "emergency"? I agree with the trial court--the police had permission to enter the house. I can't imagine it takes a unanimous approval from all house occupants before police can enter.