search, right of
in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,and requires that a search warrant, based on
probable cause,be obtained by police. The wording of the amendment, however, has proved open to widely varying interpretations. Thus, eavesdropping, including electronic
bugging,was long considered not to require a warrant, and the nature of
probable causehas been debated over the years.
In the 1960s the Supreme Court strengthened protections against
unreasonable searches and seizures by applying exclusionary rules, barring the use of illegally collected evidence in court. Since the 1980s, however, a more conservative Court has undercut the force of exclusionary rules, allowing the use of evidence collected
in good faith even if without a valid warrant. Government officials have been given wider access to telephone and bank records, and a nationwide antidrug campaign has led to the use of
stop and frisk searches, particularly in the nation's cities. In the 1990s congressional conservatives sought to write into federal statute the greater leeway allowed police by the Court.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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