Update 3: Analyzing the Results

In my readings, as of yet, I have the fact patterns of the cases that I am looking at to be very similar. Most of them start with a police raid in some business/home of a particular individual with a search warrant in search of a generic illegal item whether it be obscene material, drugs, or other evidence of crimes. The evidence is seized and the individual arrested and either convicted using the evidence or in the process of a trial. Then come the legal problems with the whole process.

In some scenarios, like in Chimel, the defendant alleges that the police did not have a proper search warrant and went too far in their search. In others, it is that the police made a mistake and overreached the bounds of the search warrant they had. Other times like in Quantity of Books, it was that the warrant was not properly obtained and had flaws in it. Or even yet, as in Wong Sun, there was no warrant and the officers exceeded reasonable grounds in searching the location. To a casual onlooker these cases seem to be saying the same thing, but in looking at the specific facts and the words employed in the decisions, the court is making different statements about different scenarios that most times cannot be cross-applied.

Many of these cases aren’t even mostly about the 4th Amendment or “search and seizure” more specifically, but yet the decisions the Court lays out have some effect on how the law in those areas will be interpreted. It still amazes me at the minute details the Court strives to get right and the exact wording it employs in its briefs, even though the language is still fairly vague and always up for interpretation.

A big favorite of the justices it seems is to call back to the 1500s and 1600s and the rule of law in England when evaluating these cases. Drawing parallels to those times seems to help ground their views as stemming from a common law tradition but it often seems out of place when looking at the facts of the cases occurring the mid ‘60s. Nevertheless, it seems out of place to critique a Supreme Court Justice’s writing style and use of metaphors as an undergraduate student.

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