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Explain and Contrast Three Major Interpretations of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by the Supreme Court - Essay Example

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Running Head: THE THREE INTERPRETATIONS OF THE FOURTH AMENDMENT The Three Interpretations of the Fourth Amendment By Introduction The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution states that “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.” Two important clauses can be noted from the aforementioned provision: the reasonableness clause, and; the warrants clause…
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Explain and Contrast Three Major Interpretations of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by the Supreme Court
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Download file to see previous pages The Warrant Approach Before the 1960s, the courts approached the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment by closely linking the two clauses on reasonableness and warrant. The first is deemed a mere introduction to the second clause, which implies that so long as warrants are employed in conducting the search and seizure, then the principle of the Fourth Amendment is met because the warrant is the embodiment of the reasonableness clause. On the other hand, any search and seizure conducted without the use of a warrant is ipso facto unreasonable and defies the reasonableness clause of said Amendment (Harr & Hess, 2007, pp. 178-179). This approach is underpinned by the idea that unless within established exceptions, warrantless searches or seizures in which there have been no prior approval by the court are unreasonable because they are conducted outside the realm of the judicial process (cited in the dissent of Stewart in US v Edwards 415 US 800 (1974). The conventional Warrant Approach is evident in the cases of Coolidge v New Hampshire 403 US 443-454, US v. Chadwick 433 U.S. 1 (1977), Payton v New York 445 US 573 (1980), Go-Bart Importing Co v US 282 U.S. 344, the dissent in US v Edwards 415 U.S. 800 (1974) and Camara v. Municipal Court 387 US 523 (1967). In Coolidge, the US Supreme Court reversed and remanded the conviction of the defendant on the ground that the evidence supporting it was inadmissible for violation of the Fourth Amendment. The search warrant for the search of the defendant’s car was invalid because it was issued by the Attorney General who was the chief prosecutor of the case and was therefore not a “neutral and detached magistrate.” Because there was, in effect, an absence of warrant, the search was deemed done outside the judicial process and was per se unreasonable. In Chadwick, the Court ruled that opening a footlocker inside the trunk of a car without a warrant contravened the Fourth Amendment because of the heightened privacy expectation attached to it. In Payton, a New York law allows the police to enter a felony suspect’s home and arrest him without a warrant. The Court ruled that this law violated the Fourth Amendment because it allowed a search without prior authority granted by a neutral magistrate. In Go-Bart Importing, the Court reversed again a judgment of conviction on the ground that the search of a desk and a safe and the seizure of evidence therefrom on the basis of a search warrant issued by the US Commissioner were invalid under the Fourth Amendment. Finally in Camara, the Court ruled that searches conducted by government health and safety inspectors are subject to warrant under the Fourth Amendment because they intrude upon the privacy of persons protected by it and unless the owner consents to the search, the same is deemed unreasonable. The Reasonableness Approach In the 1960s, the US Supreme Court broadened its interpretation of the Fourt ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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