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The Fourth Amendment does not apply in wiretapping there was no seizure and search. The evidence was obtained solely by hearing. Nobody entered the house of the defendant by force. Taft asserts that the words contained in the Fourth Amendment cannot be expanded to include a phone and the wires that leave the defender’s home to different parts of the world.
Justice Stewart reasons that private conversations can be made in public. An individual pays for phone services with the expectation that his conversation will not be public. He expects privacy. The intrusion of this privacy via wiretapping is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Stewart states that listening to phone conversations is equivalent to a search, which has been mentioned in the Fourth Amendment.
The Weeks vs. U.S. case presented the courts with the real definition of privacy intrusion. The trial did not accept the violation of the rights of the defendants found in the Fourth Amendment. The ruling of the case stated that the trial court erred by allowing the evidence collected by forceful entry, search and seizure as part of the evidence. The defendant’s home is a personal space that should not be intruded by any government agency. The Weeks vs. U.S. case helped in defining the implication of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment did not affect the evidence that was forcefully seized during the arrest of the defendant. In respect to the court’s conclusion, the Fourth Amendment does not expand to the acts of individuals acting without the push of the federal government. The law is present to control the power of the federal government.
The question central to this course is how law written in the 18th century should be interpreted by courts to deal with the technology of the 21st century. Contrast the minority (dissenting) opinions of Brandeis in Olmstead vs. U.S. and Black in Katz vs. U.S.
The interpretation of the law is not constant. The law evolves as time and people change.
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