1914 February 24

Exclusionary Rule Applied in Federal Criminal Cases


In Weeks v. United States, decided on this day, the Supreme Court applied the exclusionary rule in federal criminal cases. The exclusionary rule holds that evidence collected through a search that violates the Fourth Amendment cannot be used against a defendant.

Forty-seven years later, on June 19, 1961, the Court applied the exclusionary rule to state and local police, in Mapp v. Ohio. The Mapp decision was one of the most controversial among the many controversial decisions of the Warren Court (1953–1969), attacked by the police and political conservatives. And while the Supreme Court has limited the application of Mapp in certain respects over the years, the ExclusionaryErule has not been overturned.

The Court: “The tendency of those who execute the criminal laws of the country to obtain conviction by means of unlawful seizures and enforced confessions, the latter often obtained after subjecting accused persons to unwarranted practices destructive of rights secured by the Federal Constitution, should find no sanction in the judgments of the courts . . .”

Read: Carolyn Long, Mapp v. Ohio: Guarding Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures (2006)

Learn more: Stephen Schulhofer, More Essential Than Ever: The Fourth Amendment in the Twenty-First Century (2012)

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