The Taft Court (1921–30)

Criminal Justice and Procedure

What justice issued a famous dissent questioning the majority’s narrow interpretation of the Fourth Amendment?

Justice Louis Brandeis issued the most comprehensive dissenting opinion, though Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Pierce Butler, and Harlan Fiske Stone also wrote dissenting opinions.

Brandeis recognized that individual privacy can be invaded in different ways through technological advancements. In a moment of prescience, he wrote: “Ways may some day be developed by which the government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home.” He explained that invading privacy by listening to telephone conversations was as great, if not greater, than opening an individual’s mail. He also questioned the government’s culpability in sanctioning what he termed the unlawful wiretapping. He warned that “the government itself would become a lawbreaker.”


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