The White Court (1910–21)

Criminal Justice

In what famous decision did the U.S. Supreme Court exclude evidence obtained without a warrant?

The White Court unanimously ruled in Weeks v. United States (1914) that federal law enforcement officials violated the Fourth Amendment when they searched the home of Fremont Weeks without a warrant, seized hundreds of his personal documents, and refused to return them. The Court determined that Weeks’s conviction for running an illegal gambling operation had to be overturned because of the federal marshal’s Fourth Amendment violations. Justice Rufus Day wrote that “if letters and private documents can thus be seized and held and used in evidence against a citizen … the protection of the Fourth Amendment … is of no value.” This ruling established the so-called exclusionary rule, which said that evidence seized by federal officials in violation of the Fourth Amendment had to be excluded and could not be used in evidence against the defendant.


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