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Criminal Procedure

Lawrence Rosenthal

Fourth Amendment

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Binary Searches And The Central Meaning Of The Fourth Amendment, Lawrence Rosenthal Feb 2014

Binary Searches And The Central Meaning Of The Fourth Amendment, Lawrence Rosenthal

Lawrence Rosenthal

Fourth Amendment jurisprudence is frequently accused of doctrinal incoherence. A primary reason is the persistence of two competing conceptions of “unreasonable” search and seizure. The first is libertarian in character; it understands the Fourth Amendment’s command of reasonableness as establishing a constitutional boundary on investigative powers. On this view, the prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure keeps society free by limiting the government’s investigative reach. The second conception understands the Fourth Amendment's prohibition as freedom against unjustified government intrusion. This conception of reasonableness is essentially pragmatic in character, balancing liberty and law-enforcement interests.

This article interrogates these ...