San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


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During the 1975 term the Supreme Court handed down nine opinions which involved the fourth amendment. In all nine cases the Court reversed state or lower federal court decisions suppressing evidence. This trend undoubtedly led Justice Marshall, dissenting in the ninth case, to state that "[t]oday's decision is the ninth this Term marking the continuing evisceration of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Beyond such broad characterizations, the nine decisions provide important guidance for the resolution of recurring fourth amendment issues. This Article will examine these decisions under two rubrics: coverage and protection. Coverage involves the threshold consideration of whether a particular governmental activity falls within the purview of the amendment-that is, whether a search or seizure has occurred with the requisite relationship to persons, houses, papers, and effects. After this determination is made, the focus of the Article will shift to the problem of the protection afforded by the fourth amendment. Protection concerns questions such as the warrant requirement, probable cause, and application of the exclusionary rule. These concepts will be treated separately in this Article. Additionally specific attention will be paid to the differences between the degrees of fourth amendment protection now available in an arrest situation and the level of protection provided in circumstances involving a search no incident to an arrest.

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