The Supreme Court in recent years has aggressively pursued restrictions on a person's Constitutional protections from unreasonable searches and seizures. Perhaps no better example exists of the radically changing fourth amendment analysis than the automobile exception to the warrant requirement This exception allows a law enforcement official with probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is hidden in a vehicle to search that vehicle without obtaining a search warrant This Article explores the genesis and unchecked growth of the automobile exception from a necessary outgrowth of the exigencies of protecting police officers and preventing tampering with evidence, to a confusing morass of interchangeably applied and contradictory rationales and unworkable, "bright-line" rules. In examining three 1985 Supreme Court cases, this Article identifies the contradictions and two highly disturbing trends in fourth amendment analysis: that the proponent of warrant protections has the burden of proving their benefit over law enforcement costs, and, the possible first steps towards a general, public place exception to the warrant requirement.
Place of Original Publication
Case Western Reserve Law Review
36 Case Western Reserve Law Review 375 (1985-1986)
Katz, Lewis R., "The Automobile Exception Transformed: The Rise of a Public Place Exemption to the Warrant Requirement" (1997). Faculty Publications. 429.