Mrs. Barbara Abell
15 January 2010
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
Protection Against Unwarranted Searches
The Mapp v. Ohio case was very important in history and important for a person’s rights. This case has protected citizens from the authority abusing their powers. The police are not able to search through a person’s items just for any reason. If they are suspicious then they can get a warrant which allows them to search and seize any illegal items in a person’s possession. The fourth amendment is what protects the people from searches and seizures. It states “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.” (Warren) The amendment has a couple of exceptions depending on where the search is going to be held. For example there are “border searches” where it is legal for authorities to search randomly without a warrant but in this case, this search was completely illegal. The Supreme Court Case Mapp v. Ohio (1961) has made a significant impact on American society because it protected people from illegal searches and seizures.
In 1957, the police heard a tip that Miss Mapp had a large number of betting slips in her possession and also had a bomber hiding in her house. The police came to her house to check it out but Mapp refused to let them in without a search warrant. They came back a couple of hours later and knocked down her door, handcuffed her, put her upstairs, and searched throughout the rest of her home. The police found other illegal items and confiscated them although they did not have a proper warrant. They also arrested her for possession of the illegal materials. When she went to court, she knew that she had illegal items but since the police did not provide her with a warrant then she was considered not guilty. The Fourteenth amendment played a major role in this case. The Fourteenth amendment states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This amendment protects all the American citizens because as long as they reside in the United States then they are protected. The court ruled that the fourth amendment protected Miss Mapp and the police did not have the right to search through her things and seize the illegal materials although they were illegal. The court believed “constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. . . . It is the duty of courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon. (Patrick) That basically means that the court is responsible to protect the people by using the constitution and the rights of man. The job of the court is to translate the laws and make sure that citizens are provided justice. If it were up to just the police, Miss Mapp would have gone to jail for containing those items in her house and they would not have recognized the fact of how they found them. The police would not have wanted to admit that they needed a warrant, according to them she had illegal materials and that was the main point. They would have wanted to just serve justice to her and make her pay for the wrong that she committed.
The Fourth Amendment’s rights of privacy have been declared enforceable against...