Supreme Court Decisions

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Supreme Court Decisions
Rungwe Rungwe
Constitutional Law (LS305-01)
Assignment Chapter 4

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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 (Fourth Amendment). The text of the Fourth Amendment does not define exactly what “unreasonable search” is. The framers of the constitution left the words “unreasonable search” open in order for the Supreme Court to interpret. Hence, by looking at the text of the Fourth Amendment, the words “unreasonable search” is very ambiguous and it’s the job of the Supreme Court to delineate the ambiguity of the words. In the case Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), Katz was convicted of illegal wagering based on evidence obtained by attaching a small listening and recording device to the exterior of a public telephone booth that he regularly used for wagering calls (Kanovitz, 2010, p.268). The Supreme Court found that Katz’s Fourth Amendment right was violated by declaring, . . The Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. 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 (Katz v. United States, 1967).

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that Katz had a right to expect privacy because he used the telephone booth and closed the door. Therefore, the presence of the concealed tape recorder violated the privacy on which Katz justifiably relied when placing calls, and this was interpreted as a search by the Supreme Court. This interpretation differed from Olmstead v. United...
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