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The Fourth Amendment And Katz Essay Research

The Fourth Amendment And Katz Essay, Research Paper

The Fourth Amendment and Katz

The petitioner Mr. Katz was arrested for illegal gambling, he had been gambling over a public phone. The FBI attached an electronic recorder onto the outside of the public phone booth. The state courts claimed this to be legal because the recording device was on the outside of the phone and the FBI never entered the booth. The Supreme Court ruled in the favor of Katz. They stated that the Fourth Amendment allowed for the protection of a person and not just a person s property against illegal searches. The Fourth Amendment written in 1791 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. The court was unsure on weather or not they should consider a public telephone booth as an area protected by the fourth amendment.

The court did state that: 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 if he’s trying to be private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected…Searches performed without warrants have been held unlawful not withstanding facts showing probable cause. For the Constitution requires that conscious fair judgment of a judicial officer be introduced between the person and the police.

The FBI agents found out the days and times he would use the pay phone. The FBI attached a tape recorder to the outside of the telephone booth. The FBI recorded him using the phone six different times which all six conversations were around three minutes long. They made sure that they only recorded him and not anyone else s conversations. Katz lost the case all the way up to the Supreme Court because the state courts said there was no amendment violation since there was no physical entrance into the area occupied by the petitioner.

The Constitutional Fourth Amendment was looked at and analyzed very carefully and the Supreme Court decided in favor of Katz with a seven to one vote. Strong arguments were brought to the stand, the Governments eavesdropping violated the privacy of Katz. The Fourth Amendment governs not only the taking of tangible items but extends as well the recording of oral statements. The surveillance in this case could have been legal by the constitution, but it was not part of the warrant issued. Warrants are very valuable to make everything stated in the fourth amendment legal. The telephone booth was made of glass so he was visible to the public, but he did not enter the booth so no one could see him, he entered the booth so no one could hear him. A person in a telephone booth is under protection of the Fourth Amendment, one who occupies it, shuts the door behind him, and pays the toll that permits him to place a call is surly entitled to assume that the words he utters into the mouthpiece will not be broadcasted to the world. To read the constitution more directly is to ignore the vital role that the public telephone has to come to play in private communication. But with all this evidence it was still fought that the surveillance method they used involved no physical penetration into the telephone booth. The Fourth Amendment was thought to limit only searches and seizures of tangible property.

The decision of the court was seven to one and Mr. Justice Marshall took no part in the decision of the case. Mr. Justice Stewart said in his speech that, …these considerations do not vanish when the search in question is transferred from the setting of a home, an office, or a hotel room to that of a telephone booth. Wherever a man may be, he is entitled to know that he will remain free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Mr. Justice Stewart s feelings on the case were that the use of electronic surveillance should be regulated. He thinks permission should be granted for the use of electronic surveillance. Mr. Justice Douglas, with whom Mr. Justice

Brennan joined, said that The Fourth Amendment draws no lines between various substantive offenses. The arrests in cases of hot pursuit and the arrests on visible or other evidence of probable cause cut across the board and are not peculiar to any kind of crime. Mr. Justice Harlan said that like a home a telephone booth has its privacy, and the intrusion into a place that is private is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Also, warrants are very important in legal procedures of the court and must be followed through. Mr. Justice White said, I agree that the official surveillance of petitioner s telephone conversations in a public booth must be subjected to the test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment…the particular surveillance undertaken was unreasonable absent a warrant properly authorizing it. Mr. Justice Fortas and Mr. Justice Douglas concurred together and said that the fourth amendment should be revised for todays technology. Although the right of the fourth amendment has come up much like the Osborne V. United States case.

Now it is time to adjust and start by saying that the FBI violated the privacy upon which the petitioner justifiably relied while using the telephone booth. Mr. Justice Black dissented, he could not concur because he could not make the amendment say what it didn t know when it was written, I will not distort the words of the amendment in order to keep the constitution up to date.” He believes that privacy is only explained in the fourth Amendment and no general right is understood, by the amendment so as to give this court the unlimited power to hold unconstitutional everything which affects privacy.

After this case the court made some requirements for electronic eavesdropping. Most of them were put in the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. There are strict requirements for electronic surveillance. Warrants now have to be specified for the use of electronic devices.

Works Cited

1.Katz vs. United States. http://tqd.advanced.org/2760/katz.htm. 2/24/98.

2.Hall, Kermit. The Oxford Companion to The Supreme Court of The United States. New York: Oxford, 1992.

3.Katzen, Sally. Katz V. United States . FedWorld/FLITE Supreme Court Decisions Homepage. 24 Sep. 1997.

4.Online. http://www.fedworld.gov. Levy, Leonard, (ed.) Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. New York: Macmillan, 1986.

5.Online. http://www.. corbett.k12.or.us/highschool/activities/ussc/stephen%20kirkinan.html

Kirkinanan, Stephan. April 2, 1998


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