Ever wonder how the law adapts to technology that makes it harder or easier for police to search and seize suspected criminals? Orin Kerr posits that an Equilibrium-adjustment exists. "Courts respond to the new facts by trying to restore the old level of protection. If a new technology or practice increased government power, courts ratchet up Fourth Amendment...
End of a Supreme Court Blunder?
"In June, the Supreme Court decided that Detroit police did not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of a drug dealer named Booker Hudson when they entered his home in August 1998 only five seconds after announcing their presence at his door. Hudson's lawyers argued that--although he had a loaded gun hidden in the couch next to him--police should have waited to enter for at least 20 seconds after knocking. The four dissenting justices in Hudson v. Michigan complained that the decision repealed a 'knock and announce' rule that has been part of common law since the 13th century. Newspapers around the country echoed their lament.
Justice Scalia, writing the majority opinion, took aim at a rule of more recent vintage--the 'exclusionary rule,' enshrined by the Supreme Court only a generation ago, which holds that evidence must be excluded from trial if it has been obtained improperly. Dismissing key evidence on such a minor point as the number of seconds police wait at the door is the equivalent of giving the defendant a 'get-out-of-jail-free card,' wrote Scalia. The suppression of evidence should be 'our last resort, not our first impulse.'
Unfortunately, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who otherwise sided with the majority, did not endorse Scalia's rejection of the exclusionary rule. In a separate opinion, Kennedy called this rule 'settled' and 'not in doubt,' but held that in this particular case the police did not overstep. Scalia's frontal assault on the exclusionary rule, though, now has the support of four justices. Before long, this judge-invented rule that redefined American law enforcement over the past half-century may reach the end of its long run."
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