Supreme Court Decisions Essay

820 Words Nov 30th, 2011 4 Pages
Supreme Court Decisions
Rungwe Rungwe
Constitutional Law (LS305-01)
Assignment Chapter 4
10/16/2011

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized (Fourth Amendment). The text of the Fourth Amendment does not define exactly what “unreasonable search” is. The framers of the constitution left the words “unreasonable search” open in order for the Supreme Court to interpret. Hence, by looking at
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United States, the Supreme Court did not see that as “unreasonable search”. In the 1928, case of Olmstead v. United States the issue of whether of wiretapping constituted a “search” for purpose of the Fourth Amendment was interpreted. Olmstead was convicted of conspiring to violate the National Prohibition Act based on evidence obtained by tapping his telephone line from a junction box located on the public street (Kanovitz, 2010, p.267). According to the text,
“The Court, nevertheless, rejected Olmstead’s claim that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. A “search,” the Court declared, requires a physical intrusion into a constitutionally protected location and a “seizure,” the taking of tangible things. Olmstead’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated by the interception of his telephone conversations because government agents never set foot on his property or took anything tangible; his telephone conversations were “acquired” through their sense of hearing only” ( Kanovitz, 2010, p.267).

According to Katz, physical intrusion is not necessary to fall within the meaning of a “search” because what a person seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public should remain private and the person has a right to expect privacy, hence the Fourth Amendment right should apply. For instance, Katz usage of telephone booth provided the environment that allowed him to carry the
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