San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



This Article identifies and discusses various legal theories being used to avoid consideration of the fourth amendment in the use of arbitrary law enforcement methods, most notably the targeting of racial minorities as suspects. The Article discusses the concept of consensual encounters: the presumption that most law enforcement contacts are voluntary encounters with the targets of the inquiry freely answering questions or consenting to a search. This approach renders it legally unnecessary to determine whether race played an undue part in the encounter. The Article also examines the point at which a "seizure" occurs, which is often crucial in determining whether the fourth amendment has been observed. It also analyzes whether illegal aliens enjoy the same protections of the fourth amendment as U.S. citizens. The author concludes that under current legal theories, minority group members are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement for interrogation and investigation where there is no reasonable suspicion that they have committed a crime.