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“You have to make a split-second decision,” Roberts said. “Which way do you go?”

But other justices didn’t seem willing to go that far.

Justice Stephen Breyer said the court wants to draw a line that defers to the need to protect the president, yet avoid giving law enforcement a blank check to run over constitutional rights.

“Everyone understands the danger. You can’t run a risk. At the same time, no one wants a Praetorian Guard that is above the law,” Breyer said, referring to bodyguards used by Roman emperors.

A decision in the case is expected by June.

The case is Wood v. Moss, 13-115.

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Follow Sam Hananel on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SamHananelAP