April 25, 2010
The Warren Court left an unprecedented legacy of judicial activism in the area of civil rights law as well as in the area of civil liberties—specifically, the rights of the accused as addressed in Amendments 4 through 8. In the period from 1961 to 1969, the Warren Court examined almost every aspect of the criminal justice system in the United States, using the 14th Amendment to extend constitutional protections to all courts in every State. This process became known as the “nationalization” of the Bill of Rights. During those years, cases concerning the right to legal counsel, confessions, searches, and the treatment of juvenile criminals all appeared on the Court's docket. The Warren Court's revolution in the criminal justice system began with the case of Mapp v. Ohio, the first of several significant cases in which it re-evaluated the role of the 14th Amendment as it applied to State judicial system. On May 23, 1957, police officers in a Cleveland, Ohio suburb received information that a suspect in a bombing case, as well as some illegal betting equipment, might be found in the home of Dollree Mapp. Three officers went to the home and asked for permission to enter, but Mapp refused to admit them without a search warrant. Two officers left, and one remained. Three hours later, the two returned with several other officers. Brandishing a piece of paper, they broke in the door. Mapp asked to see the “warrant” and took it from an officer, putting it in her dress. The officers struggled with Mapp and took the piece of paper away from her. They handcuffed her for being “belligerent.” Police found neither the bombing suspect nor the betting equipment during their search, but they did discover some pornographic material in a suitcase by Mapp's bed. Mapp said that she had loaned the suitcase to a boarder at one time and that the contents were not her property. She was arrested, prosecuted, found...