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The Rehnquist Court (1986–2005)

Criminal Justice

Do social guests enjoy Fourth Amendment protection from police searches?

Yes, the Rehnquist Court ruled in Minnesota v. Olson (1990) that an overnight house guest is entitled to a legitimate expectation of privacy in the home he or she is staying. “To hold that an overnight guest has a legitimate expectation of privacy in his host’s home room merely recognizes the every day expectations of privacy that we all share,” the Court wrote. However, this same reasoning does not extend to persons who are not overnight social guests. In the 1998 decision Minnesota v. Carter, the Court ruled that persons in an apartment for two-and-a-half hours packaging cocaine were not entitled to a legitimate expectation of privacy in another’s apartment. Given that the persons were in the apartment for only a short time, had no previous connection to the apartment owner, and used the apartment for a commercial transaction, the Court refused to find that they had a legitimate expectation of privacy.



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