History and Scope of the Amendment


Few provisions of the Bill of Rights grew so directly out of the experience of the colonials as the Fourth Amendment, embodying as it did the protection against the use of the “writs of assistance.” But though the insistence on freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures as a fundamental right gained expression in the colonies late and as a result of experience,1 there was also a rich English experience to draw on. “Every man’s house is his castle” was a maxim much celebrated in England, as Saman’s Case demonstrated in 1603.2 A civil case of execution of process, Saman’s Case nonetheless recognized the right of the homeowner to defend his house against unlawful entry even by the King’s agents, but at the same time recognized the authority of the appropriate officers to break and enter upon notice in order to arrest or to execute the King’s process. Most famous of the English cases was Entick v. Carrington,3 one of a series of civil actions against state officers who, pursuant to general warrants, had raided many homes and other places in search of materials connected with John Wilkes’ polemical pamphlets attacking not only governmental policies but the King himself.4

Entick, an associate of Wilkes, sued because agents had forcibly broken into his house, broken into locked desks and boxes, and seized many printed charts, pamphlets, and the like. In an opinion sweeping in terms, the court declared the warrant and the behavior it authorized subversive “of all the comforts of society,” and the issuance of a warrant for the seizure of all of a person’s papers rather than only those alleged to be criminal in nature “contrary to the genius of the law of England.”5 Besides its general character, the court said, the warrant was bad because it was not issued on a showing of probable cause and no record was required to be made of what had been seized. Entick v. Carrington, the Supreme Court has said, is a “great judgment,” “one of the landmarks of English liberty,” “one of the permanent monuments of the British Constitution,” and a guide to an understanding of what the Framers meant in writing the Fourth Amendment.6

In the colonies, smuggling rather than seditious libel afforded the leading examples of the necessity for protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. In order to enforce the revenue laws, English authorities made use of writs of assistance, which were general warrants authorizing the bearer to enter any house or other place to search for and seize “prohibited and uncustomed” goods, and commanding all subjects to assist in these endeavors. Once issued, the writs remained in force throughout the lifetime of the sovereign and six months thereafter. When, upon the death of George II in 1760, the authorities were required to obtain the issuance of new writs, opposition was led by James Otis, who attacked such writs on libertarian grounds and who asserted the invalidity of the authorizing statutes because they conflicted with English constitutionalism.7 Otis lost and the writs were issued and used, but his arguments were much cited in the colonies not only on the immediate subject but also with regard to judicial review.

Scope of the Amendment.

The language of the provision that became the Fourth Amendment underwent some modest changes on its passage through the Congress, and it is possible that the changes reflected more than a modest significance in the interpretation of the relationship of the two clauses. Madison’s introduced version provided “The rights to be secured in their persons, their houses, their papers, and their other property, from all unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated by warrants issued without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, or not particularly describing the places to be searched, or the persons or things to be seized.”8 As reported from committee, with an inadvertent omission corrected on the floor,9 the section was almost identical to the introduced version, and the House defeated a motion to substitute “and no warrant shall issue” for “by warrants issuing” in the committee draft. In some fashion, the rejected amendment was inserted in the language before passage by the House and is the language of the ratified constitutional provision.10

As noted above, the noteworthy disputes over search and seizure in England and the colonies revolved about the character of warrants. There were, however, lawful warrantless searches, primarily searches incident to arrest, and these apparently gave rise to no disputes. Thus, the question arises whether the Fourth Amendment’s two clauses must be read together to mean that the only searches and seizures which are “reasonable” are those which meet the requirements of the second clause, that is, are pursuant to warrants issued under the prescribed safeguards, or whether the two clauses are independent, so that searches under warrant must comply with the second clause but that there are “reasonable” searches under the first clause that need not comply with the second clause.11 This issue has divided the Court for some time, has seen several reversals of precedents, and is important for the resolution of many cases. It is a dispute that has run most consistently throughout the cases involving the scope of the right to search incident to arrest.12 Although the right to search the person of the arrestee without a warrant is unquestioned, how far afield into areas within and without the control of the arrestee a search may range is an interesting and crucial matter.

The Court has drawn a wavering line.13 In Harris v. United States,14 it approved as “reasonable” the warrantless search of a four-room apartment pursuant to the arrest of the man found there. A year later, however, a reconstituted Court majority set aside a conviction based on evidence seized by a warrantless search pursuant to an arrest and adopted the “cardinal rule that, in seizing goods and articles, law enforcement agents must secure and use search warrants wherever reasonably practicable.”15 This rule was set aside two years later by another reconstituted majority, which adopted the premise that the test “is not whether it is reasonable to procure a search warrant, but whether the search was reasonable.” Whether a search is reasonable, the Court said, “must find resolution in the facts and circumstances of each case.”16 However, the Court soon returned to its emphasis upon the warrant. “The [Fourth] Amendment was in large part a reaction to the general warrants and warrantless searches that had so alienated the colonists and had helped speed the movement for independence. In the scheme of the Amendment, therefore, the requirement that ‘no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,’ plays a crucial part.”17 Therefore, “the police must, whenever practicable, obtain advance judicial approval of searches and seizures through a warrant procedure.”18 Exceptions to searches under warrants were to be closely contained by the rationale undergirding the necessity for the exception, and the scope of a search under one of the exceptions was similarly limited.19

During the 1970s the Court was closely divided on which standard to apply.20 For a while, the balance tipped in favor of the view that warrantless searches are per se unreasonable, with a few carefully prescribed exceptions.21 Gradually, guided by the variable-expectation-of-privacy approach to coverage of the Fourth Amendment, the Court broadened its view of permissible exceptions and of the scope of those exceptions.22 By 1992, it was no longer the case that the “warrants-with-narrow-exceptions” standard normally prevails over a “reasonableness” approach.23 Exceptions to the warrant requirement have multiplied, tending to confine application of the requirement to cases that are exclusively “criminal” in nature. And even within that core area of “criminal” cases, some exceptions have been broadened.

The most important category of exception is that of administrative searches justified by “special needs beyond the normal need for law enforcement.” Under this general rubric the Court has upheld warrantless searches by administrative authorities in public schools, government offices, and prisons, and has upheld drug testing of public and transportation employees.24 In all of these instances, the warrant and probable cause requirements are dispensed with in favor of a reasonableness standard that balances the government’s regulatory interest against the individual’s privacy interest; in all of these instances, the government’s interest has been found to outweigh the individual’s. The broad scope of the administrative search exception is evidenced by the fact that an overlap between law enforcement objectives and administrative “special needs” does not result in application of the warrant requirement; instead, the Court has upheld warrantless inspection of automobile junkyards and dismantling operations in spite of the strong law enforcement component of the regulation.25

In the law enforcement context, where search by warrant is still the general rule, there has also been some loosening of the requirement. For example, the scope of a valid search “incident to arrest,” once limited to areas within the immediate reach of the arrested suspect, was expanded to a “protective sweep” of the entire home, if arresting officers have a “reasonable” belief that the home harbors an individual who may pose a danger.26 In another case, the Court shifted focus from whether exigent circumstances justified failure to obtain a warrant, to whether an officer had a “reasonable” belief that an exception to the warrant requirement applied.27 The Court has also held that an exigent circumstances exception applied even where the exigency arose as a result of police conduct, so long as the police conduct was “reasonable” in that it neither threatened to nor violated the Fourth Amendment.28

Another matter of scope that the Court has addressed is the category of persons protected by the Fourth Amendment; i.e., who constitutes “the people.” This phrase, the Court determined, “refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community or who have otherwise developed sufficient connection with [the United States] to be considered part of that community.”29 The Fourth Amendment therefore does not apply to the search and seizure by United States agents of property that is owned by a nonresident alien and located in a foreign country. The community of protected people includes U.S. citizens who go abroad, and aliens who have voluntarily entered U.S. territory and developed substantial connections with this country. There is no resulting broad principle, however, that the Fourth Amendment constrains federal officials wherever and against whomever they act.

The Interest Protected.

For the Fourth Amendment to ap-ply to a particular set of facts, there must be a “search” and a “seizure,” occurring typically in a criminal case, with a subsequent attempt to use judicially what was seized.30 Whether there was a search and seizure within the meaning of the Amendment, and whether a complainant’s interests were constitutionally infringed, will often turn upon consideration of his interest and whether it was officially abused. What does the Amendment protect? Under the common law, there was no doubt. In Entick v. Carrington,31 Lord Camden wrote: “The great end for which men entered in society was to secure their property. That right is preserved sacred and incommunicable in all instances where it has not been taken away or abridged by some public law for the good of the whole. . . . By the laws of England, every invasion of private property, be it ever so minute, is a trespass. No man can set foot upon my ground without my license but he is liable to an action though the damage be nothing . . . .” Protection of property interests as the basis of the Fourth Amendment found easy acceptance in the Supreme Court32 and that acceptance controlled the decision in numerous cases.33 For example, in Olmstead v. United States,34 one of the two premises underlying the holding that wiretapping was not covered by the Amendment was that there had been no actual physical invasion of the defendant’s premises; where there had been an invasion—a technical trespass— electronic surveillance was deemed subject to Fourth Amendment restrictions.35

The Court later rejected this approach. “The premise that property interests control the right of the government to search and seize has been discredited. . . . We have recognized that the principal object of the Fourth Amendment is the protection of privacy rather than property, and have increasingly discarded fictional and procedural barriers rested on property concepts.”36 Thus, because the Amendment “protects people, not places,” the requirement of actual physical trespass is dispensed with and electronic surveillance was made subject to the Amendment’s requirements.37

The new test, propounded in Katz v. United States, is whether there is an expectation of privacy upon which one may “justifiably” rely.38 “What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection. But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.”39 That is, the “capacity to claim the protection of the Amendment depends not upon a property right in the invaded place but upon whether the area was one in which there was reasonable expectation of freedom from governmental intrusion.”40

Katz’s focus on privacy was revitalized in Kyllo v. United States,41 in which the Court invalidated the warrantless use of a thermal imaging device directed at a private home from a public street. The rule devised by the Court to limit police use of new technology that can “shrink the realm of guaranteed privacy” is that “obtaining by sense-enhancing technology any information regarding the interior of the home that could not otherwise have been obtained without physical ‘intrusion into a constitutionally protected area’ . . . constitutes a search—at least where (as here) the technology in question is not in general public use.”42 Relying on Katz, the Court rejected as “mechanical” the Government’s attempted distinction between off-the-wall and through-the-wall surveillance. Permitting all off-the-wall observations, the Court observed, “would leave the homeowner at the mercy of advancing technology—including technology that could discern all human activity in the home.”

Although the sanctity of the home has been strongly reaffirmed, protection of privacy in other contexts becomes more problematic. A two-part test that Justice Harlan suggested in Katz often provides the starting point for analysis.43 The first element, the “subjective expectation” of privacy, has largely dwindled as a viable standard, because, as Justice Harlan noted in a subsequent case, “our expectations, and the risks we assume, are in large part reflections of laws that translate into rules the customs and values of the past and present.”44 As for the second element, whether one has a “legitimate” expectation of privacy that society finds “reasonable” to recognize, the Court has said that “[l]egitimation of expectations of privacy by law must have a source outside of the Fourth Amendment, either by reference to concepts of real or personal property law or to understandings that are recognized and permitted by society.”45

Thus, protection of the home is at the apex of Fourth Amendment coverage because of the right associated with ownership to exclude others;46 but ownership of other things, i.e., automobiles, does not carry a similar high degree of protection.47 That a person has taken normal precautions to maintain his privacy, that is, precautions customarily taken by those seeking to exclude others, is usually a significant factor in determining legitimacy of expectation.48 Some expectations, the Court has held, are simply not among those that society is prepared to accept.49 In the context of norms for the use of rapidly evolving communications devices, the Court was reluctant to consider “the whole concept of privacy expectations” at all, preferring other decisional grounds: “The judiciary risks error by elaborating too fully on the Fourth Amendment implications of emerging technology before its role in society has become clear.”50

What seems to have emerged is a balancing standard that requires “an assessing of the nature of a particular practice and the likely extent of its impact on the individual’s sense of security balanced against the utility of the conduct as a technique of law enforcement.” Whereas Justice Harlan saw a greater need to restrain police officers through the warrant requirement as the intrusions on individual privacy grow more extensive,51 the Court’s solicitude for law enforcement objectives frequently tilts the balance in the other direction.

Application of this balancing test, because of the Court’s weighing of law enforcement investigative needs,52 and its subjective evaluation of privacy needs, has led to the creation of a two-tier or sliding-tier scale of privacy interests. The privacy test was originally designed to permit a determination that an interest protected by the Fourth Amendment had been invaded.53 If it had been, then ordinarily a warrant was required, subject only to the narrowly defined exceptions, and the scope of the search under those exceptions was “strictly tied to and justified by the circumstances which rendered its initiation permissible.”54 But the Court now uses the test to determine whether the interest invaded is important or persuasive enough so that a warrant is required to justify it;55 if the individual has a lesser expectation of privacy, then the invasion may be justified, absent a warrant, by the reasonableness of the intrusion.56 Exceptions to the warrant requirement are no longer evaluated solely by the justifications for the exception, e.g., exigent circumstances, and the scope of the search is no longer tied to and limited by the justification for the exception.57 The result has been a considerable expansion, beyond what existed prior to Katz, of the power of police and other authorities to conduct searches.

In United States v. Jones,58 the Court seemed to revitalize the significance of governmental trespass in determining whether a Fourth Amendment search has occurred. In Jones, the Court considered whether the attachment of a Global-Positioning-System (GPS) device to a car used by a suspected narcotics dealer and the monitoring of such device for twenty-eight days, constituted a search. Although the Court ruled unanimously that this month-long monitoring violated Jones’s rights, it splintered on the reasoning. A majority of the Court relied on the theory of common law trespass to find that the attachment of the device to the car represented a physical intrusion into Jones’s constitutionally protected “effect” or private property.59 While this holding obviated the need to assess the month-long tracking under Katz’s reasonable expectation of privacy test, five Justices, who concurred either with the majority opinion or concurred with the judgment, would have held that long-term GPS tracking can implicate an individual’s expectation of privacy.60 Some have read these concurrences as partly premised on the idea that while government access to a small data set—for example, one trip in a vehicle—might not violate one’s expectation of privacy, aggregating a month’s worth of personal data allows the government to create a “mosaic” about an individual’s personal life that violates that individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy.61 As a consequence, these concurring opinions could potentially have significant implications for the scope of the Fourth Amendment in relation to current and future technologies, such as cell phone tracking and wearable technologies that do not require a physical trespass to monitor a person’s activities and that can aggregate a wealth of personal data about users.62

Arrests and Other Detentions.

That the Fourth Amend-ment was intended to protect against arbitrary arrests as well as against unreasonable searches was early assumed by Chief Justice Marshall63 and is now established law.64 At common law, warrantless arrests of persons who had committed a breach of the peace or a felony were permitted,65 and this history is reflected in the fact that the Fourth Amendment is satisfied if the arrest is made in a public place on probable cause, regardless of whether a warrant has been obtained.66 However, in order to effectuate an arrest in the home, absent consent or exigent circumstances, police officers must have a warrant.67

The Fourth Amendment applies to “seizures” and it is not necessary that a detention be a formal arrest in order to bring to bear the requirements of warrants, or probable cause in instances in which warrants are not required.68 Some objective justification must be shown to validate all seizures of the person,69 including seizures that involve only a brief detention short of arrest, although the nature of the detention will determine whether probable cause or some reasonable and articulable suspicion is necessary.70

The Fourth Amendment does not require an officer to consider whether to issue a citation rather than arresting (and placing in custody) a person who has committed a minor offense—even a minor traffic offense. In Atwater v. City of Lago Vista,71 the Court, even while acknowledging that the case before it involved “gratuitous humiliations imposed by a police officer who was (at best) exercising extremely poor judgment,” refused to require that “case-by-case determinations of government need” to place traffic offenders in custody be subjected to a reasonableness inquiry, “lest every discretionary judgment in the field be converted into an occasion for constitutional review.”72 Citing some state statutes that limit warrantless arrests for minor offenses, the Court contended that the matter is better left to statutory rule than to application of broad constitutional principle.73 Thus, Atwater and County of Riverside v. McLaughlin74 together mean that—as far as the Constitution is concerned—police officers have almost unbridled discretion to decide whether to issue a summons for a minor traffic offense or whether instead to place the offending motorist in jail, where she may be kept for up to 48 hours with little recourse. Even when an arrest for a minor offense is prohibited by state law, the arrest will not violate the Fourth Amendment if it was based on probable cause.75

Until relatively recently, the legality of arrests was seldom litigated in the Supreme Court because of the rule that a person detained pursuant to an arbitrary seizure—unlike evidence obtained as a result of an unlawful search—remains subject to custody and presentation to court.76 But the application of self-incrimination and other exclusionary rules to the states and the heightening of their scope in state and federal cases alike brought forth the rule that verbal evidence, confessions, and other admissions, like all derivative evidence obtained as a result of unlawful seizures, could be excluded.77 Thus, a confession made by one illegally in custody must be suppressed, unless the causal connection between the illegal arrest and the confession had become so attenuated that the latter should not be deemed “tainted” by the former.78 Similarly, fingerprints and other physical evidence obtained as a result of an unlawful arrest must be suppressed.79

Searches and Inspections in Noncriminal Cases.

Certain early cases held that the Fourth Amendment was applicable only when a search was undertaken for criminal investigatory purposes,80 and the Supreme Court until recently employed a reasonableness test for such searches without requiring either a warrant or probable cause in the absence of a warrant.81 But, in 1967, the Court in two cases held that administrative inspections to detect building code violations must be undertaken pursuant to warrant if the occupant objects.82 “We may agree that a routine inspection of the physical condition of private property is a less hostile intrusion than the typical policeman’s search for the fruits and instrumentalities of crime. . . . But we cannot agree that the Fourth Amendment interests at stake in these inspection cases are merely ‘peripheral.’ It is surely anomalous to say that the individual and his private property are fully protected by the Fourth Amendment only when the individual is suspected of criminal behavior.”83 Certain administrative inspections used to enforce regulatory schemes with regard to such items as alcohol and firearms are, however, exempt from the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement and may be authorized simply by statute.84

Camara and See were reaffirmed in Marshall v. Barlow’s, Inc.,85 in which the Court held to violate the Fourth Amendment a provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act that authorized federal inspectors to search the work area of any employment facility covered by the Act for safety hazards and violations of regulations, without a warrant or other legal process. The liquor and firearms exceptions were distinguished on the basis that those industries had a long tradition of close government supervision, so that a person in those businesses gave up his privacy expectations. But OSHA was a relatively recent statute and it regulated practically every business in or affecting interstate commerce; it was not open to a legislature to extend regulation and then follow it with warrantless inspections. Additionally, OSHA inspectors had unbounded discretion in choosing which businesses to inspect and when to do so, leaving businesses at the mercy of possibly arbitrary actions and certainly with no assurances as to limitation on scope and standards of inspections. Further, warrantless inspections were not necessary to serve an important governmental interest, as most businesses would consent to inspection and it was not inconvenient to require OSHA to resort to an administrative warrant in order to inspect sites where consent was refused.86

In Donovan v. Dewey,87 however, the Court seemingly limited Barlow’s reach and articulated a new standard that appeared to permit extensive governmental inspection of commercial property without a warrant. Under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, governing underground and surface mines (including stone quarries), federal officers are directed to inspect underground mines at least four times a year and surface mines at least twice a year, pursuant to extensive regulations as to standards of safety. The statute specifically provides for absence of advanced notice and requires the Secretary of Labor to institute court actions for injunctive and other relief in cases in which inspectors are denied admission. Sustaining the statute, the Court proclaimed that government had a “greater latitude” to conduct warrantless inspections of commercial property than of homes, because of “the fact that the expectation of privacy that the owner of commercial property enjoys in such property differs significantly from the sanctity accorded an individual’s home, and that this privacy interest may, in certain circumstances, be adequately protected by regulatory schemes authorizing warrantless inspections.”88

Dewey was distinguished from Barlow’s in several ways. First, Dewey involved a single industry, unlike the broad coverage in Barlow’s. Second, the OSHA statute gave minimal direction to inspectors as to time, scope, and frequency of inspections, while FMSHA specified a regular number of inspections pursuant to standards. Third, deference was due Congress’s determination that unannounced inspections were necessary if the safety laws were to be effectively enforced. Fourth, FMSHA provided businesses the opportunity to contest the search by resisting in the civil proceeding the Secretary had to bring if consent was denied.89 The standard of a long tradition of government supervision permitting warrantless inspections was dispensed with, because it would lead to “absurd results,” in that new and emerging industries posing great hazards would escape regulation.90

Dewey was applied in New York v. Burger91 to inspection of automobile junkyards and vehicle dismantling operations, a situation where there is considerable overlap between administrative and penal objectives. Applying the Dewey three-part test, the Court concluded that New York has a substantial interest in stemming the tide of automobile thefts, that regulation of vehicle dismantling reasonably serves that interest, and that statutory safeguards provided adequate substitute for a warrant requirement. The Court rejected the suggestion that the warrantless inspection provisions were designed as an expedient means of enforcing the penal laws, and instead saw narrower, valid regulatory purposes to be served, such as establishing a system for tracking stolen automobiles and parts, and enhancing the ability of legitimate businesses to compete. “[A] State can address a major social problem both by way of an administrative scheme and through penal sanctions,” the Court declared; in such circumstances warrantless administrative searches are permissible in spite of the fact that evidence of criminal activity may well be uncovered in the process.92

Most recently, however, in City of Los Angeles v. Patel, the Court declined to extend the “more relaxed standard” applicable to searches of closely regulated businesses to hotels when invalidating a Los Angeles ordinance that gave police the ability to inspect hotel registration records without advance notice and carried a six-month term of imprisonment and a $1,000 fine for hotel operators who failed to make such records available.93 The Patel Court, characterizing inspections pursuant to this ordinance as “administrative searches,”94 held “that a hotel owner must be afforded an opportunity to have a neutral decision maker review an officer’s demand to search the registry before he or she faces penalties for failing to comply” for such a search to be permissible under the Fourth Amendment.95 In so doing, the Court expressly declined to treat the hotel industry as a “closely regulated” industry subject to the more relaxed standard applied in Dewey and Burger on the grounds that doing so would “permit what has always been a narrow exception to swallow the rule.”96 The Court emphasized that, over the prior 45 years, it had recognized only four industries as having “such a history of government oversight that no reasonable expectation of privacy . . . could exist for a proprietor over the stock of such an enterprise.”97 These four industries involve liquor sales, firearms dealing, mining, and running an automobile junkyard, and the Court distinguished hotel operations from these industries, in part, because “nothing inherent in the operation of hotels poses a clear and significant risk to the public welfare.”98 However, the Court also suggested that, even if hotels were to be seen as pervasively regulated, the Los Angeles ordinance would still be deemed unreasonable because (1) there was no substantial government interest informing the regulatory scheme; (2) warrantless inspections were not necessary to further the government’s purpose; and (3) the inspection program did not provide, in terms of the certainty and regularity of its application, a constitutionally adequate substitute for a warrant.99

In other contexts, not directly concerned with whether an industry is comprehensively regulated, the Court has also elaborated the constitutional requirements affecting administrative inspections and searches. In Michigan v. Tyler,100 for example, it subdivided the process by which an investigation of the cause of a fire may be conducted. Entry to fight the fire is, of course, an exception based on exigent circumstances, and no warrant or consent is needed; fire fighters on the scene may seize evidence relating to the cause under the plain view doctrine. Additional entries to investigate the cause of the fire must be made pursuant to warrant procedures governing administrative searches. Evidence of arson discovered in the course of such an administrative inspection is admissible at trial, but if the investigator finds probable cause to believe that arson has occurred and requires further access to gather evidence for a possible prosecution, he must obtain a criminal search warrant.101

One curious case has approved a system of “home visits” by welfare caseworkers, in which the recipients are required to admit the worker or lose eligibility for benefits.102 In another unusual case, the Court held that a sheriff ’s assistance to a trailer park owner in disconnecting and removing a mobile home constituted a “seizure” of the home.103

In addition, there are now a number of situations, some of them analogous to administrative searches, where “ ‘special needs’ beyond normal law enforcement . . . justify departures from the usual warrant and probable cause requirements.”104 In one of these cases the Court, without acknowledging the magnitude of the leap from one context to another, has taken the Dewey/Burger rationale— developed to justify warrantless searches of business establishments— and applied it to justify the significant intrusion into personal privacy represented by urinalysis drug testing. Because of the history of pervasive regulation of the railroad industry, the Court reasoned, railroad employees have a diminished expectation of privacy that makes mandatory urinalysis less intrusive and more reasonable.105

With respect to automobiles, the holdings are mixed. Random stops of automobiles to check drivers’ licenses, vehicle registrations, and safety conditions were condemned as too intrusive; the degree to which random stops would advance the legitimate governmental interests involved did not outweigh the individual’s legitimate expectations of privacy.106 On the other hand, in South Dakota v. Opperman,107 the Court sustained the admission of evidence found when police impounded an automobile from a public street for multiple parking violations and entered the car to secure and inventory valuables for safekeeping. Marijuana was discovered in the glove compartment.


Apparently the first statement of freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures appeared in The Rights of the Colonists and a List of Infringements and Violations of Rights, 1772, in the drafting of which Samuel Adams took the lead. 1 B. SCHWARTZ, THE BILL OF RIGHTS: A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY 199, 205–06 (1971). back
5 Coke’s Repts. 91a, 77 Eng. Rep. 194 (K.B. 1604). One of the most forceful expressions of the maxim was that of William Pitt in Parliament in 1763: “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the crown. It may be frail—its roof may shake—the wind may blow through it—the storm may enter, the rain may enter—but the King of England cannot enter—all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.” back
19 Howell’s State Trials 1029, 95 Eng. 807 (1705). back
See also Wilkes v. Wood, 98 Eng. 489 (C.P. 1763); Huckle v. Money, 95 Eng. Rep. 768 (K.B. 1763), aff’d 19 Howell’s State Trials 1002, 1028; 97 Eng. Rep. 1075 (K.B. 1765). back
95 Eng. 817, 818. back
Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 626 (1886). back
The arguments of Otis and others as well as much background material are contained in Quincy’s MASSACHUSETTS REPORTS, 1761–1772, App. I, pp. 395–540, and in 2 LEGAL PAPERS OF JOHN ADAMS 106–47 (Wroth & Zobel eds., 1965). See also Dickerson, Writs of Assistance as a Cause of the American Revolution, in THE ERA OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: STUDIES INSCRIBED TO EVARTS BOUTELL GREENE 40 (R. Morris, ed., 1939). back
1 ANNALS OF CONGRESS 434–35 (June 8, 1789). back
The word “secured” was changed to “secure” and the phrase “against unreasonable searches and seizures” was reinstated. Id. at 754 (August 17, 1789). back
Id. It has been theorized that the author of the defeated revision, who was chairman of the committee appointed to arrange the amendments prior to House passage, simply inserted his provision and that it passed unnoticed. N. LASSON, THE HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE FOURTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION 101–03 (1937). back
The amendment was originally in one clause as quoted above; it was the insertion of the defeated amendment to the language which changed the text into two clauses and arguably had the effect of extending the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures beyond the requirements imposed on the issuance of warrants. It is also possible to read the two clauses together to mean that some seizures even under warrants would be unreasonable, and this reading has indeed been effectuated in certain cases, although for independent reasons. Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616 (1886); Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298 (1921), overruled by Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 (1967); but see id. at 303 (reserving the question whether “there are items of evidential value whose very nature precludes them from being the object of a reasonable search and seizure.”) back
Approval of warrantless searches pursuant to arrest first appeared in dicta in several cases. Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, 392 (1914); Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 158 (1925); Agnello v. United States, 269 U.S. 20, 30 (1925). Whether or not there is to be a rule or a principle generally preferring or requiring searches pursuant to warrant to warrantless searches, however, has ramifications far beyond the issue of searches pursuant to arrest. United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297, 320 (1972). back
Compare Marron v. United States, 275 U.S. 192 (1927), with Go-Bart Importing Co. v. United States, 282 U.S. 344 (1931), and United States v. Lefkowitz, 285 U.S. 452 (1932). back
331 U.S. 145 (1947). back
Trupiano v. United States, 334 U.S. 699, 705 (1948). See also McDonald v. United States, 335 U.S. 451 (1948). back
United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 66 (1950). back
Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 761 (1969). back
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 20 (1968). In United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297, 321 (1972), Justice Powell explained that the “very heart” of the Amendment’s mandate is “that where practical, a governmental search and seizure should represent both the efforts of the officer to gather evidence of wrongful acts and the judgment of the magistrate that the collected evidence is sufficient to justify invasion of a citizen’s private premises or conversation.” Thus, what is “reasonable” in terms of a search and seizure derives content and meaning through reference to the warrant clause. Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 473–84 (1971). See also Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721, 728 (1969); Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 356–58 (1967); Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 299 (1967). back
Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 762–64 (1969) (limiting scope of search incident to arrest). See also United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972) (rejecting argument that it was “reasonable” to allow President through Attorney General to authorize warrantless electronic surveillance of persons thought to be endangering the national security); Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967) (although officers acted with great self-restraint and reasonably in engaging in electronic seizures of conversations from a telephone booth, a magistrate’s antecedent judgment was required); Preston v. United States, 376 U.S. 364 (1964) (warrantless search of seized automobile not justified because not within rationale of exceptions to warrant clause). There were exceptions, e.g., Cooper v. California, 386 U.S. 58 (1967) (warrantless search of impounded car was reasonable); United States v. Harris, 390 U.S. 234 (1968) (warrantless inventory search of automobile). back
See, e.g., Almighty-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266 (1973), Justices Stewart, Douglas, Brennan, and Marshall adhered to the warrant-based rule, while Justices White, Blackmun, and Rehnquist, and Chief Justice Burger placed greater emphasis upon the question of reasonableness without necessary regard to the warrant requirement. Id. at 285. Justice Powell generally agreed with the former group of Justices, id. at 275 (concurring). back
E.g., G.M. Leasing Corp. v. United States, 429 U.S. 338, 352–53 (1977) (unanimous); Marshall v. Barrow’s, Inc., 436 U.S. 307, 312 (1978); Michigan v. Tyler, 436 U.S. 499, 506 (1978); Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385, 390 (1978) (unanimous); Arkansas v. Sanders, 442 U.S. 743 (1979) (1979); United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798, 824–25 (1982). back
E.g., Chambers v. Maroney, 399 U.S. 42 (1970) (warrantless search of automobile taken to police station); Texas v. White, 423 U.S. 67 (1975) (same); New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454 (1981) (search of vehicle incident to arrest); United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798 (1982) (automobile search at scene); Brigham City, Utah v. Stuart, 547 U.S. 398 (2006) (warrantless entry into a home when police have an objectively reasonable basis for believing that an occupant is seriously injured or imminently threatened with such injury); Michigan v. Fisher, 558 U.S. ___, No. 09–91 (2009) (applying Brigham City). On the other hand, the warrant-based standard did preclude a number of warrantless searches. E.g., Almighty-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266 (1973) (warrantless stop and search of auto by roving patrol near border); Marshall v. Barrow’s, Inc., 436 U.S. 307 (1978) (warrantless administrative inspection of business premises); Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385 (1978) (warrantless search of home that was “homicide scene”); Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. ___, No. 07–542 (2009) (search of vehicle incident to arrest where arrestee had no access to vehicle). back
Of the Justices on the Court in 1992, only Justice Stevens frequently sided with the warrants-with-narrow-exceptions approach. See, e.g., Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177, 189 (Justice Stevens joining Justice Marshall’s dissent); New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 370 (1985) (Justice Stevens dissenting); California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565, 585 (1991) (Justice Stevens dissenting). back
See various headings infra under the general heading “Valid Searches and Seizures Without Warrants.” back
New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691 (1987). back
Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325 (1990). back
Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177 (1990); see also Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. ___, No. 11–1425, slip op. (2013) (rejecting a per se exception for obtaining warrants in DWI cases and requiring that exigent circumstances be evaluated under a “totality of the circumstances” test). back
Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. ___, No. 09–1272, slip op. (2011) (police justified in entering apartment after smelling burning marijuana in a hallway, knocking on apartment door, and hearing noises consistent with evidence being destroyed). back
United States v. Vertigo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 265 (1990). back
See, e.g., California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621, 626 (1991) (because there was no “seizure” of the defendant as he fled from police before being tackled, the drugs that he abandoned in flight could not be excluded as the fruits of an unreasonable seizure). back
19 Howell’s State Trials 1029, 1035, 95 Eng. Reg. 807, 817–18 (1765). back
Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 627 (1886); Adams v. New York, 192 U.S. 585, 598 (1904). back
Thus, the rule that “mere evidence” could not be seized but rather only the fruits of crime, its instrumentalities, or contraband, turned upon the question of the right of the public to possess the materials or the police power to make possession by the possessor unlawful. Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298 (1921), overruled by Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 (1967). See also Davis v. United States, 328 U.S. 582 (1946). Standing to contest unlawful searches and seizures was based upon property interests, United States v. Jeffers, 342 U.S. 48 (1951); Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257 (1960), as well as decision upon the validity of a consent to search. Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610 (1961); Stoner v. California, 376 U.S. 483 (1964); Frazier v. Culp, 394 U.S. 731, 740 (1969). back
277 U.S. 438 (1928). See also Goldman v. United States, 316 U.S. 129 (1942) (detectaphone placed against wall of adjoining room; no search and seizure). back
Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505 (1961) (spike mike pushed through a party wall until it hit a heating duct). back
Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 304 (1967). back
Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 353 (1967) (warrantless use of listening and recording device placed on outside of phone booth violates Fourth Amendment). See also Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 32–33 (2001) (holding presumptively unreasonable the warrantless use of a thermal imaging device to detect activity within a home by measuring heat outside the home, and noting that a contrary holding would permit developments in police technology “to erode the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment”. back
389 U.S. at 353. Justice Harlan, concurring, formulated a two pronged test for determining whether the privacy interest is paramount: “first that a person have exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy and, second, that the expectation be one that society is prepared to recognize as ‘reasonable.’ ” Id. at 361. back
389 U.S. at 351–52. back
Mancusi v. DeForte, 392 U.S. 364, 368 (1968) (official had a reasonable expectation of privacy in an office he shared with others, although he owned neither the premises nor the papers seized). Minnesota v. Olson, 495 U.S. 91 (1990) (overnight guest in home has a reasonable expectation of privacy). But cf. Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83 (1998) (a person present in someone else’s apartment for only a few hours for the purpose of bagging cocaine for later sale has no legitimate expectation of privacy); Cf. Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128 (1978) (auto passengers demonstrated no legitimate expectation of privacy in glove compartment or under seat of auto). Property rights are still protected by the Amendment, however. A “seizure” of property can occur when there is some meaningful interference with an individual’s possessory interests in that property, and regardless of whether there is any interference with the individual’s privacy interest. Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56 (1992) (a seizure occurred when sheriff ’s deputies assisted in the disconnection and removal of a mobile home in the course of an eviction from a mobile home park). The reasonableness of a seizure, however, is an additional issue that may still hinge on privacy interests. United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 120–21 (1984) (DEA agents reasonably seized package for examination after private mail carrier had opened the damaged package for inspection, discovered presence of contraband, and informed agents). back
533 U.S. 27 (2001). back
533 U.S. at 34. back
Justice Harlan’s opinion has been much relied upon. See, e.g., Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19 (1968); Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 143–144 n.12 (1978); Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 740–41 (1979); United States v. Salvucci, 448 U.S. 83, 91–92 (1980); Rawlings v. Kentucky, 448 U.S. 98, 105–06 (1980); Bond v. United States, 529 U.S. 334, 338 (2000). back
United States v. White, 401 U.S. 745, 786 (1971). See Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 740 n.5 (1979) (government could not condition “subjective expectations” by, say, announcing that henceforth all homes would be subject to warrantless entry, and thus destroy the “legitimate expectation of privacy”). back
Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 144 n.12 (1978). back
E.g., Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165 (1969); Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385 (1978); Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980); Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 31 (2001). back
E.g., United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798 (1982). See also Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S. 594 (1981) (commercial premises); Maryland v. Macon, 472 U.S. 463 (1985) (no legitimate expectation of privacy in denying to undercover officers allegedly obscene materials offered to public in bookstore). back
E.g., United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1, 11 (1977); Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 352 (1967). But cf. South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364 (1976) (no legitimate expectation of privacy in automobile left with doors locked and windows rolled up). In Rawlings v. Kentucky, 448 U.S. 98 (1980), the fact that defendant had dumped a cache of drugs into his companion’s purse, having known her for only a few days and knowing others had access to the purse, was taken to establish that he had no legitimate expectation the purse would be free from intrusion. back
E.g., United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435 (1976) (bank records); Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979) (numbers dialed from one’s telephone); Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517 (1984) (prison cell); Illinois v. Andreas, 463 U.S. 765 (1983) (shipping container opened and inspected by customs agents and resealed and delivered to the addressee); California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988) (garbage in sealed plastic bags left at curb for collection). back
City of Ontario v. Quon, 560 U.S. ___, No. 08–1332, slip op. at 10 (2010) The Court cautioned that “[a] broad holding concerning employees’ privacy expectations vis-a-vis employer-provided technological equipment might have implications for future cases that cannot be predicted.” Id. at 11–12. back
United States v. White, 401 U.S. 745, 786–87 (1971) (Justice Harlan dissenting). back
E.g., Robbins v. California, 453 U.S. 420, 429, 433–34 (1981) (Justice Powell concurring), quoted with approval in United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798, 815–16 & n.21 (1982). back
Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351–52 (1967). back
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19 (1968). back
The prime example is the home, so that for entries either to search or to arrest, “the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house. Absent exigent circumstances, that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant.” Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 590 (1980); Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204, 212 (1981); Kirk v. Louisiana, 536 U.S. 635 (2002) (per curiam). See also Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385 (1978). Privacy in the home is not limited to intimate matters. “In the home all details are intimate details, because the entire area is held safe from prying government eyes.” Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 37 (2001). back
One has a diminished expectation of privacy in automobiles. Arkansas v. Sanders, 442 U.S. 753, 761 (1979) (collecting cases); United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798, 804–09 (1982). A person’s expectation of privacy in personal luggage and other closed containers is substantially greater than in an automobile, United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1, 13 (1977); Arkansas v. Sanders, 442 U.S. 753 (1979), although, if the luggage or container is found in an automobile as to which there exists probable cause to search, the legitimate expectancy diminishes accordingly. United States v. Ross, supra. There is also a diminished expectation of privacy in a mobile home parked in a parking lot and licensed for vehicular travel. California v. Carney, 471 U.S. 386 (1985) (leaving open the question of whether the automobile exception also applies to a “mobile” home being used as a residence and not adapted for immediate vehicular use). back
E.g., Texas v. White, 423 U.S. 67 (1975) (if probable cause to search automobile existed at scene, it can be removed to station and searched without warrant); United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218 (1973) (once an arrest has been validly made, search pursuant thereto is so minimally intrusive in addition that scope of search is not limited by necessity of security of officer); United States v. Edwards, 415 U.S. 800 (1974) (incarcerated suspect; officers need no warrant to take his clothes for test because little additional intrusion). But see Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85 (1979) (officers on premises to execute search warrant of premises may not without more search persons found on premises). back
565 U.S. ___, No. 10–1259, slip op. (2012). back
Id. at 3–7. The physical trespass analysis was reprised in subsequent opinions. In its 2013 decision in Florida v. Jardines, the Court assessed whether a law enforcement officer had the legal authority to conduct a drug sniff with a trained canine on the front porch of a suspect’s home. Reviewing the law of trespass, the Court observed that visitors to a home, including the police, must have either explicit or implicit authority from the homeowner to enter upon and engage in various activities in the curtilage (i.e., the area immediately surrounding the home). Finding that the use of the dog to find incriminating evidence exceeded “background social norms” of what a visitor is normally permitted to do on another’s property, the Court held that the drug sniff constituted a search. 569 U.S. ___, No. 11–564, slip op. at 5–8 (2013). Similarly, in its 2015 per curiam opinion in Grady v. North Carolina, the Court emphasized the “physical intru[sion]” on a person when it found that attaching a device to a person’s body, without consent, for the purpose of tracking the person’s movements, constitutes a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. 575 U.S. ___, No. 14–593, slip op. at 4–5 (2015). Neither the majority in Jardines nor the Court in Grady addressed whether the challenged conduct violates a reasonable expectation of privacy under Katz v. United States. Grady, slip op. at 5; Jardines, slip op. at 8–10. back
Jones, slip op. at 14 (Alito, J., concurring in the judgment, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, JJ.) (concluding that respondent’s reasonable expectations of privacy were violated by the long-term monitoring of the movements of the respondent’s vehicle); id. at 3 (Sotomayor, J., concurring) (disagreeing with Justice Alito’s “approach” to the specific case but agreeing “longer term GPS monitoring in investigations of most offenses impinges on expectations of privacy.”). back
See, e.g., United States v. Graham, 846 F.Supp. 2d 384, 394 (D. Md. 2012) (“It appears as though a five-Justice majority is willing to accept the principle that government surveillance over time can implicate an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy.”), aff’d, ___ F.3d ___, No. 12–4659, slip op. at 31 (4th Cir. 2015); In re Application for Telephone Information Needed for a Criminal Investigation, 119 F. Supp. 3d. 1011, 1021–22 (N.D. Cal. 2015) (discussing the import of the two concurring opinions from Jones); United States v. Brooks, 911 F. Supp. 2d 836, 842 (D. Ariz. 2012) (noting that “[w]hile it does appear that in some future case, a five justice ‘majority’ is willing to accept the principle that Government surveillance can implicate an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy over time, Jones does not dictate the result of the case at hand . . . ”); but see United States v. Graham, ___
F.3d ___, No. 12–4659, 2016 WL 3068018, at *10 (4th Cir. May 31, 2016) (arguing that Justice Alito’s Jones concurrence should be read more narrowly so as to not implicate government access to information collected by third-party actors, no matter the quantity of information collected); In re Application of FBI, No. BR 14–01, 2014 WL 5463097, at *10 (FISA Ct. Mar. 20, 2014) (“While the concurring opinions in Jones may signal that some or even most of the Justices are ready to revisit certain settled Fourth Amendment principles, the decision in Jones itself breaks no new ground . . .”).
See generally Orin S. Kerr, The Mosaic Theory of the Fourth Amendment, 111 MICH. L. REV. 311 (2012). back
Ex parte Burford, 7 U.S. (3 Cr.) 448 (1806). back
Giordenello v. United States, 357 U.S. 480, 485–86 (1958); United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411, 416–18 (1976); Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 583–86 (1980); Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204, 211–13 (1981). back
1 J. STEPHEN, A HISTORY OF THE CRIMINAL LAW OF ENGLAND 193 (1883). At common law warrantless arrest was also permissible for some misdemeanors not involving a breach of the peace. See the lengthy historical treatment in Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318, 326–45 (2001). back
United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411 (1976). See also United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38 (1976) (sustaining warrantless arrest of suspect in her home when she was initially approached in her doorway and then retreated into house). However, a suspect arrested on probable cause but without a warrant is entitled to a prompt, nonadversary hearing before a magistrate under procedures designed to provide a fair and reliable determination of probable cause in order to keep the arrestee in custody. Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975). A “prompt” hearing now means a hearing that is administratively convenient. See County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44, 56 (1991) (authorizing “as a general matter” detention for up to 48 hours without a probable-cause hearing, after which time the burden shifts to the government to demonstrate extraordinary circumstances justifying further detention). back
Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980) (voiding state law authorizing police to enter private residence without a warrant to make an arrest); Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204 (1981) (officers with arrest warrant for A entered B’s home without search warrant and discovered incriminating evidence; violated Fourth Amendment in absence of warrant to search the home); Hayes v. Florida, 470 U.S. 811 (1985) (officers went to suspect’s home and took him to police station for fingerprinting). back
United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554 (1980) (“a person has been ‘seized’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment only if, in view of all the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave”). See also Reid v. Georgia, 448 U.S. 438 (1980); United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 878 (1975); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 16–19 (1968); Kaupp v. Texas, 538 U.S. 626 (2003). Apprehension by the use of deadly force is a seizure subject to the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness requirement. See, e.g., Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985) (police officer’s fatal shooting of a fleeing suspect); Brower v. County of Inyo, 489 U.S. 593 (1989) (police roadblock designed to end car chase with fatal crash); Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372 (2007) (police officer’s ramming fleeing motorist’s car from behind in attempt to stop him); Plumhoff v. Rickard, 572 U.S. ___, No. 12–1117, slip op. (2014) (police use of 15 gunshots to end a police chase). The Court has also made clear that the Fourth Amendment applies to pre-trial detention. See Manuel v. Joliet, 580 U.S. ___, No. 14–9496, slip op. at 1 (2017) (holding that a petitioner who “was held in jail for seven weeks after a judge relied on allegedly fabricated evidence to find probable cause that he had committed a crime” could “challenge his pretrial detention on the ground that it violated the Fourth Amendment”). back
The justification must be made to a neutral magistrate, not to the arrestee. There is no constitutional requirement that an officer inform an arrestee of the reason for his arrest. Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 155 (2004) (the offense for which there is probable cause to arrest need not be closely related to the offense stated by the officer at the time of arrest). back
Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 650 (1979) (“unreasonable seizure . . . to stop an automobile . . . for the purpose of checking the driving license of the operator and the registration of the car, where there is neither probable cause to believe nor reasonable suspicion” that a law was violated); Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 51 (1979) (detaining a person for the purpose of requiring him to identify himself constitutes a seizure requiring a “reasonable, articulable suspicion that a crime had just been, was being, or was about to be committed”); Reid v. Georgia, 448 U.S. 438, 441 (1980) (requesting ticket stubs and identification from persons disembarking from plane not reasonable where stated justifications would apply to “a very large category of innocent travelers,” e.g., travelers arrived from “a principal place of origin of cocaine”); Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692, 705 (1981) (“it is constitutionally reasonable to require that [a] citizen . . . remain while officers of the law execute a valid warrant to search his home”); Illinois v. McArthur, 531 U.S. 326 (2001) (approving “securing” of premises, preventing homeowner from reentering, while a search warrant is obtained); Los Angeles County v. Rettele, 550 U.S. 609 (2007) (where deputies executing a search warrant did not know that the house being searched had recently been sold, it was reasonable to hold new homeowners, who had been sleeping in the nude, at gunpoint for one to two minutes without allowing them to dress or cover themselves, even though the deputies knew that the homeowners were of a different race from the suspects named in the warrant). back
532 U.S. 318 (2001). back
532 U.S. at 346–47. back
532 U.S. at 352. back
500 U.S. 44 (1991). back
Virginia v. Moore, 128 S. Ct. 1598 (2008). See also Heien v. North Carolina, 574 U.S. ___, No. 13–604, slip op. at 5 (2014) (holding that a mistake of law can give rise to the reasonable suspicion necessary to uphold the seizure of a vehicle). The law enforcement officer in Heien had stopped the vehicle because it had only one working brake light, which the officer understood to be a violation of the North Carolina vehicle code. Id. at 2. However, a North Carolina court subsequently held, in a case of first impression, that the vehicle code only requires one working brake light. Id. at 3. In holding that reasonable suspicion can rest on a mistaken understanding of a legal prohibition, a majority of the Supreme Court noted prior cases finding that mistakes of fact do not preclude reasonable suspicion and concluded that “reasonable men make mistakes of law, too.” Id. at 5–6 (citing Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177, 183–86 (1990), and Hill v. California, 401 U.S. 797, 802–05 (1971), as cases involving mistakes of fact). back
Ker v. Illinois, 119 U.S. 436, 440 (1886); see also Albrecht v. United States, 273 U.S. 1 (1927); Frisbie v. Collins, 342 U.S. 519 (1952). back
Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471 (1963). Such evidence is the “fruit of the poisonous tree,” Nardone v. United States, 308 U.S. 338, 341 (1939), that is, evidence derived from the original illegality. Previously, if confessions were voluntary for purposes of the self-incrimination clause, they were admissible notwithstanding any prior official illegality. Colombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. 568 (1961). back
Although there is a presumption that the illegal arrest is the cause of the subsequent confession, the presumption is rebuttable by a showing that the confession is the result of “an intervening . . . act of free will.” Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 486 (1963). The factors used to determine whether the taint has been dissipated are the time between the illegal arrest and the confession, whether there were intervening circumstances (such as consultation with others, Miranda warnings, etc.), and the degree of flagrancy and purposefulness of the official conduct. Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590 (1975) (Miranda warnings alone insufficient); Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200 (1979); Taylor v. Alabama, 457 U.S. 687 (1982); Kaupp v. Texas, 538 U.S. 626 (2003). In Johnson v. Louisiana, 406 U.S. 356 (1972), the fact that the suspect had been taken before a magistrate who advised him of his rights and set bail, after which he confessed, established a sufficient intervening circumstance. back
Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721 (1969); Taylor v. Alabama, 457 U.S. 687 (1982). In United States v. Crews, 445 U.S. 463 (1980), the Court, unanimously but for a variety of reasons, held proper the identification in court of a defendant, who had been wrongly arrested without probable cause, by the crime victim. The court identification was not tainted by either the arrest or the subsequent in-custody identification. See also Hayes v. Florida, 470 U.S. 811, 815 (1985), suggesting in dictum that a “narrowly circumscribed procedure for fingerprinting detentions on less than probable cause” may be permissible. back
In re Strouse, 23 Fed. Cas. 261 (No. 13,548) (D. Nev. 1871); In re Meador, 16 Fed. Cas. 1294, 1299 (No. 9375) (N.D. Ga. 1869). back
Abel v. United States, 362 U.S. 217 (1960); Frank v. Maryland, 359 U.S. 360 (1959); Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186 (1946). back
Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967) (home); See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541 (1967) (commercial warehouse). back
Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523, 530 (1967). back
Colonnade Catering Corp. v. United States, 397 U.S. 72 (1970); United States v. Biswell, 406 U.S. 311 (1972). Colonnade, involving liquor, was based on the long history of close supervision of the industry. Biswell, involving firearms, introduced factors that were subsequently to prove significant. Thus, although the statute was of recent enactment, firearms constituted a pervasively regulated industry, so that dealers had no reasonable expectation of privacy, because the law provides for regular inspections. Further, warrantless inspections were needed for effective enforcement of the statute. back
436 U.S. 307 (1978). Dissenting, Justice Stevens, with Justices Rehnquist and Blackmun, argued that not the warrant clause but the reasonableness clause should govern administrative inspections. Id. at 325. back
Administrative warrants issued on the basis of less than probable cause but only on a showing that a specific business had been chosen for inspection on the basis of a general administrative plan would suffice. Even without a necessity for probable cause, the requirement would assure the interposition of a neutral officer to establish that the inspection was reasonable and was properly authorized. 436 U.S. at 321, 323. The dissenters objected that the warrant clause was being constitutionally diluted. Id. at 325. Administrative warrants were approved also in Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523, 538 (1967). Previously, one of the reasons given for finding administrative and noncriminal inspections not covered by the Fourth Amendment was the fact that the warrant clause would be as rigorously applied to them as to criminal searches and seizures. Frank v. Maryland, 359 U.S. 360, 373 (1959). See also Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266, 275 (1973) (Justice Powell concurring) (suggesting a similar administrative warrant procedure empowering police and immigration officers to conduct roving searches of automobiles in areas near the Nation’s borders); id. at 270 n.3 (indicating that majority Justices were divided on the validity of such area search warrants); id. at 288 (dissenting Justice White indicating approval); United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 547 n.2, 562 n.15 (1976). back
452 U.S. 594 (1981). back
Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S. 594, 598–99 (1981). back
452 U.S. at 596–97, 604–05. Pursuant to the statute, however, the Secretary has promulgated regulations providing for the assessment of civil penalties for denial of entry and Dewey had been assessed a penalty of $1,000. Id. at 597 n.3. It was also true in Barlow’s that the government resorted to civil process upon refusal to admit. 436 U.S. at 317 & n.12. back
Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S. 594, 606 (1981). Duration of regulation will now be a factor in assessing the legitimate expectation of privacy of a business. Id. Accord, New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691 (1987) (although duration of regulation of vehicle dismantling was relatively brief, history of regulation of junk business generally was lengthy, and current regulation of dismantling was extensive). back
482 U.S. 691 (1987). back
482 U.S. at 712 (emphasis in original). back
576 U.S. ___, No. 13–1175, slip op. at 14 (2014). Patel involved a facial, rather than an as-applied, challenge to the Los Angeles ordinance. The Court clarified that facial challenges under the Fourth Amendment are “not categorically barred or especially disfavored.” Id. at 4. Some had apparently taken the Court’s earlier statement in Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40 (1968), that “[t]he constitutional validity of a warrantless search is pre-eminently the sort of question which can only be decided in the concrete factual context of the individual case,” id. at 59, to foreclose facial Fourth Amendment challenges. Patel, slip op. at 5. However, the Patel Court construed Sibron’s language to mean only that “claims for facial relief under the Fourth Amendment are unlikely to succeed when there is substantial ambiguity as to what conduct a statute authorizes.” Id. back
Patel, slip op. at 10. back
Id. at 11. The Court further noted that actual pre-compliance review need only occur in those “rare instances” where a hotel owner objects to turning over the registry, and that the Court has never “attempted to prescribe” the exact form of such review. Id. at 10–11. back
Id. at 14. back
Id. (quoting Barlow’s, 436 U.S. at 313). back
Id. The majority further stated that the existence of regulations requiring hotels to maintain licenses, collect taxes, and take other actions did not establish a “comprehensive scheme of regulation” distinguishing hotels from other industries. Id. at 15. It also opined that the historical practice of treating hotels as public accommodations does not necessarily mean that hotels are to be treated as comprehensively regulated for purposes of warrantless searches. Id. at 14–15. back
Id. at 16. Specifically, the Court noted that the government’s alleged interest in ensuring that hotel operators not falsify their records, as they could if given an opportunity for pre-compliance review, applied to every recordkeeping requirement. Id. The Court similarly noted that there were other ways to further the city’s interest in warrantless inspections (e.g., ex parte warrants) and that the ordinance failed to sufficiently constrain a police officer’s discretion as to which hotels to search and under what circumstances. Id. back
436 U.S. 499 (1978). back
The Court also held that, after the fire was extinguished, if fire investigators were unable to proceed at the moment, because of dark, steam, and smoke, it was proper for them to leave and return at daylight without any necessity of complying with its mandate for administrative or criminal warrants. 436 U.S. at 510–11. But cf. Michigan v. Clifford, 464 U.S. 287 (1984) (no such justification for search of private residence begun at 1:30 p.m. when fire had been extinguished at 7 a.m.). back
Wyman v. James, 400 U.S. 309 (1971). It is not clear what rationale the majority used. It appears to have proceeded on the assumption that a “home visit” was not a search and that the Fourth Amendment does not apply when criminal prosecution is not threatened. Neither premise is valid under Camara and its progeny, although Camara preceded Wyman. Presumably, the case would today be analyzed under the expectation of privacy/need/structural protection theory of the more recent cases. back
Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56, 61 (1992) (home “was not only seized, it literally was carried away, giving new meaning to the term ‘mobile home’ ”). back
City of Ontario v. Quon, 560 U.S. ___, No. 08–1332, slip op. (2010) (reasonableness test for obtaining and reviewing transcripts of on-duty text messages of police officer using government-issued equipment); Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 873 (1987) (administrative needs of probation system justify warrantless searches of probationers’ homes on less than probable cause); Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526 (1984) (no Fourth Amendment protection from search of prison cell); New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985) (simple reasonableness standard governs searches of students’ persons and effects by public school authorities); O’Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709 (1987) (reasonableness test for work-related searches of employees’ offices by government employer); Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives’ Ass’n, 489 U.S. 602 (1989) (neither probable cause nor individualized suspicion is necessary for mandatory drug testing of railway employees involved in accidents or safety violations). All of these cases are discussed infra under the general heading “Valid Searches and Seizures Without Warrants.” back
Skinner, 489 U.S. at 627. back
Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 (1979). Standards applied in this case had been developed in the contexts of automobile stops at fixed points or by roving patrols in border situations. Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266 (1973); United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873 (1975); United States v. Ortiz, 422 U.S. 891 (1975); United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543 (1976). back
428 U.S. 364 (1976). See also Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U.S. 433 (1973) (sustaining admission of criminal evidence found when police conducted a warrantless search of an out-of-state policeman’s automobile following an accident, in order to find and safeguard his service revolver). The Court in both cases emphasized the reduced expectation of privacy in automobiles and the noncriminal purposes of the searches. back