Case Study

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Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1991)

Facts:Police received information that a bombing suspect and evidence of bombing were at Ms. Mapp’s home. Ms. Mapp refused to admit the police officers after calling her attorney and being instructed that they should have a warrant. After an unsuccessful initial attempt to gain entrance into her home, the police returned and pried open the door and broke a window to gain entrance. Ms. Mapp was only halfway down the stairs by time the officers had entered her dwelling. She requested to see their warrant and a ‘warrant’ was shown to her. She grabbed the ‘warrant’ and held it to her chest. A struggle ensued and Ms. Mapp was handcuffed for being ‘belligerent.’ Ms. Mapp’s attorney arrived and was not permitted to see her or enter the home. The officers conducted a search of the home and obscene materials were discovered. Ms. Mapp was tried and convicted for her possession of these materials.

Issue:Whether or not evidence discovered during a search and seizure conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment should be admissible in a state court?

Rules:All evidence discovered as a result of a search and seizure conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment is inadmissible in court.

Analysis:Justice Clark filed the majority opinion saying: That the exclusionary rule applies to all evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure clause in all state prosecutions. Since the Fourth Amendment’s right of privacy has been declared to be enforceable against the state through the Due Process Clause, the same sanctions are also enforceable against them. The purpose of the rule is to deter illegally obtained evidence and to compel respect for the Constitution. A state by admitting illegally obtained evidence disobeys the Constitution that it has sworn to uphold. A federal prosecutor may not make use of illegally obtained evidence, but a state prosecutor across the street may, even though they are supposedly operating under the same enforceable prohibitions of the same Amendment. If the criminal is to go free, then it must be the law that sets him free. Our government it the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law.

The dissenting opinion was filed by Justice Harlan. According to him, a study showed that half of the states still adhered to the common-law non-exclusionary rule. The main concern is not the desirability of the rule, but whether the states should be forced to follow it. This Court should continue to forbear from fettering the states with an adamant rule which may embarrass them in coping with their own peculiar problems in criminal law enforcement.

Conclusion: The federal exclusionary rule now applies to the states through application of the Fourteenth Amendment. All illegally obtained evidence under the Fourth Amendment must now be excluded. Reversed and Remanded Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)

Facts:The state of Virginia enacted laws making it a felony for a white person to intermarry with a black person and a black person to intermarry with a white person. The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held that the statues served the legitimate state purpose of preserving the ‘racial integrity’ of its citizens. The state argued that because its statutes punished both white and black participants equally, that they could not be said to constitute invidious discrimination based on race. Therefore, the statue only commanded rational basis review.

Issue:Whether or not rational basis was the proper standard of review to evaluate the constitutionality of the statues? Whether or not the Virginia miscegenation statues constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause?

Rules:Restricting the freedom to marry solely on the basis of race violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause....
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