Mapp v. Ohio

United States Supreme Court

367 U.S. 643; 81 S.Ct. 1684; 6 L.Ed. 2d. 1081 (1961)

 

            In this case the Court extends the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule to state criminal prosecutions.

 

Mr. Justice Clark delivered the opinion of the Court.

 

            Appellant stands convicted of knowingly having had in her possession and under her control certain lewd and lascivious books, pictures, and photographs in violation of . . . Ohio’s Revised Code. . . . [T]he Supreme Court of Ohio found that her conviction was valid though “based primarily upon the introduction in evidence of lewd and lascivious books and pictures unlawfully seized during an unlawful search of defendant’s home. . . .”

 

            On May 23, 1957, three Cleveland police officers arrived at appellant’s residence in that city pursuant to information that “a person [was] hiding out in the home, who was wanted for questioning in connection with a recent bombing, and that there was a large amount of policy [gambling] paraphernalia being hidden in the home.” Miss Mapp and her daughter by a former marriage lived on the top floor of the two-family dwelling. Upon their arrival at that house, the officers knocked on the door and demanded entrance but appellant, after telephoning her attorney, refused to admit them without a search warrant. They advised their headquarters of the situation and undertook a surveillance of the house.

 

            The officers again sought entrance some three hours later when four or more additional officers arrived on the scene. When Miss Mapp did not come to the door immediately at least one of the several doors to the house was forcibly opened and the policemen gained admittance. Meanwhile Miss Mapp’s attorney arrived, but the officers, having secured their own entry, and continuing in their defiance of the law, would permit him neither to see Miss Mapp nor to enter the house. It appears that Miss Mapp was halfway down the stairs from the upper floor to the front door when the officers, in this high-handed manner, broke into the hall. She demanded to see the search warrant. A paper, claimed to be a warrant, was held up by one of the officers. She grabbed the “warrant” and placed it in her bosom. A struggle ensued in which the officers recovered the piece of paper and as a result of which they handcuffed appellant because she had been “belligerent” in resisting their official rescue of the “warrant” from her person. Running roughshod over appellant, a policeman “grabbed” her, “twisted [her] hand,” and she “yelled [and] pleaded with him” because “it was hurting.” Appellant, in handcuffs, was then forcibly taken upstairs to her bedroom where the officers searched a dresser, a chest of drawers, a closet and some suitcases. They also looked into a photo album and through personal papers belonging to the appellant. The search spread to the rest of the second floor including the child’s bedroom, the living room, the kitchen and a dinette. The basement of the building and a trunk found therein were also searched. The obscene materials for possession of which she was ultimately convicted were discovered in the course of that widespread search.

 

            At the trial no search warrant was produced by the prosecution, nor was the failure to produce one explained or accounted for. At best, “There is, in the record, considerable doubt as to whether there ever was any warrant for the search of defendant’s home.” . . .

 

            The State says that even if the search were made without authority, or otherwise unreasonably, it is not prevented from using the unconstitutionally seized evidence at trial, citing Wolf v. Colorado [1949], in which this Court did indeed hold “that in a prosecution in a State court for a State crime the Fourteenth Amendment does not forbid the admission of evidence obtained by an unreasonable search and seizure.” . . . On this appeal, of which we have noted probable jurisdiction, . . . it is urged once again that we review that holding. . . .

 

            [I]n the year 1914, in the Weeks Case, this Court “for the first time” held that, “in a federal prosecution the Fourth Amendment barred the use of evidence secured through an illegal search and seizure.” . . . This Court has ever since required of federal law officers a strict adherence to that command which this Court has held to be a clear, specific, and constitutionally required—even if judicially implied—deterrent safeguard without insistence upon which the Fourth Amendment would have been reduced to “a form of words.” . . . It meant, quite simply, that “conviction by means of unlawful seizures and enforced confessions . . . should find no sanction in the judgments of the courts. . . .” . . .

 

            There are in the cases of this Court some passing references to the Weeks rule as being one of evidence. But the plain and unequivocal language of Weeks—and its later paraphrase in Wolf—to the effect that the Weeks rule is of constitutional origin, remains entirely undisturbed. In Byars v. United States . . . (1927), a unanimous Court declared that “the doctrine [cannot] . . . be tolerated under our constitutional system, that evidences of crime discovered by a federal officer in making a search without lawful warrant may be used against the victim of the unlawful search where a timely challenge has been interposed.” . . .

 

            In 1949, 35 years after Weeks was announced, this Court, in Wolf v. Colorado for the first time discussed the effect of the Fourth Amendment upon the States through the operation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It said: “[W]e have no hesitation in saying that were a State affirmatively to sanction such police incursion into privacy it would run counter to the guaranty of the Fourteenth Amendment.” . . . Nevertheless, after declaring that the “security of one’s privacy against arbitrary intrusion by the police” is “implicit in ‘the concept of ordered liberty’ and as such enforceable against the States through the Due Process Clause,” and announcing that it “stoutly adhere[d]” to the Weeks decision, the Court decided that the Weeks exclusionary rule would not then be imposed upon the States as “an essential ingredient of the right.” . . . The Court’s reasons for not considering essential to the right to privacy, as a curb imposed upon the States by the Due Process Clause, that which decades before had been posited as part and parcel of the Fourth Amendment’s limitation upon federal encroachment of individual privacy, were bottomed on factual considerations.

 

            While they are not basically relevant to a decision that the exclusionary rule is an essential ingredient of the Fourth Amendment as the right it embodies is vouchsafed against the States by the Due Process Clause, we will consider the current validity of the factual grounds upon which Wolf was based.

 

            The Court in Wolf first stated that “[t]he contrariety of views of the States” on the adoption of the exclusionary rule of Weeks was “particularly impressive”; . . . and, in this connection that it could not “brush aside the experience of States which deem the incidence of such conduct by the police too slight to call for a deterrent remedy . . . by overriding the [States’] relevant rules of evidence.” . . . While in 1949, prior to the Wolf Case, almost two-thirds of the States were opposed to the use of the exclusionary rule, now, despite the Wolf Case, more than half of those since passing upon it, by their own legislative or judicial decision, have wholly or partly adopted or adhered to the Weeks rule. . . . Significantly, among those now following the rule is California, which, according to its highest court, was “compelled to reach that conclusion because other remedies have completely failed to secure compliance with the constitutional provisions. . . .” . . . The experience of California that such other remedies have been worthless and futile is buttressed by the experience of other States. The obvious futility of relegating the Fourth Amendment to the protection of other remedies has, moreover, been recognized by this Court since Wolf. . . .

 

            Likewise, time has set its face against what Wolf called the “weighty testimony” of People v. Defore . . . (1926). There Justice (then Judge) Cardozo, rejecting adoption of the Weeks exclusionary rule in New York, had said that “[t]he Federal rule as it stands is either too strict or too lax.” . . . However, the force of that reasoning has been largely vitiated by later decisions of this Court. These include the recent discarding of the “silver platter” doctrine which allowed federal judicial use of evidence seized in violation of the Constitution by state agents; . . . the relaxation of the formerly strict requirements as to standing to challenge the use of evidence, thus seized, so that now the procedure of exclusion, “ultimately referable to constitutional safeguards,” is available to anyone even “legitimately on [the] premises” unlawfully searched; . . . and, finally, the formulation of a method to prevent state use of evidence unconstitutionally seized by federal agents. . . . Because there can be no fixed formula, we are admittedly met with “recurring questions of the reasonableness of searches,” but less is not to be expected when dealing with a Constitution, and, at any rate, “[r]easonableness is in the first instance for the [trial court] . . . to determine.” . . .

 

            It, therefore, plainly appears that the factual considerations supporting the failure of the Wolf Court to include the Weeks exclusionary rule when it recognized the enforceability of the right to privacy against the States in 1949, while not basically relevant to the constitutional consideration, could not, in any analysis, now be deemed controlling. . . .

 

            Since the Fourth Amendment’s right of privacy has been declared enforceable against the States through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth, it is enforceable against them by the same sanction of exclusion as is used against the Federal Government. Were it otherwise, then just as without the Weeks rule the assurance against unreasonable federal searches and seizures would be “a form of words,” valueless and undeserving of mention in a perpetual charter of inestimable human liberties, so too, without that rule the freedom from state invasions of privacy would be so ephemeral and so neatly severed from its conceptual nexus with the freedom from all brutish means of coercing evidence as not to merit this Court’s high regard as a freedom “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” At the time that the Court held in Wolf that the Amendment was applicable to the States through the Due Process Clause, the cases of this Court, as we have seen, had steadfastly held that as to federal officers the Fourth Amendment included the exclusion of the evidence seized in violation of its provisions. Even Wolf “stoutly adhered” to that proposition. The right to privacy, when conceded operatively enforceable against the States, was not susceptible of destruction by avulsion of the sanction upon which its protection and enjoyment had always been deemed dependent under the Boyd, Weeks and Silverthorne cases. Therefore, in extending the substantive protections of due process to all constitutionally unreasonable searches—state or federal—it was logically and constitutionally necessary that the exclusion doctrine—an essential part of the right to privacy—be also insisted upon as an essential ingredient of the right newly recognized by the Wolf case. In short, the admission of the new constitutional right by Wolf could not consistently tolerate denial of its most important constitutional privilege, namely, the exclusion of the evidence which an accused had been forced to give by reason of the unlawful seizure. To hold otherwise is to grant the right but in reality to withhold its privilege and enjoyment. Only last year the Court itself recognized that the purpose of the exclusionary rule “is to deter—to compel respect for the constitutional guaranty in the only effectively available way—by removing the incentive to disregard it.” . . .

 

            Moreover, our holding that the exclusionary rule is an essential part of both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments is not only the logical dictate of prior cases, but it also makes very good sense. There is no war between the Constitution and common sense. Presently, a federal prosecutor may make no use of evidence illegally seized, but a State’s attorney across the street may, although he supposedly is operating under the enforceable prohibitions of the same Amendment. Thus the State, by admitting evidence unlawfully seized, serves to encourage disobedience to the Federal Constitution which it is bound to uphold. Moreover, . . . “[t]he very essence of a healthy federalism depends upon the avoidance of needless conflict between state and federal courts.” . . .

 

            Federal-state cooperation in the solution of crime under constitutional standards will be promoted, if only by recognition of their now mutual obligation to respect the same fundamental criteria in their approaches. “However much in a particular case insistence upon such rules may appear as a technicality that inures to the benefit of a guilty person, the history of the criminal law proves that tolerance of shortcut methods in law enforcement impairs its enduring effectiveness.” . . . Denying shortcuts to only one of two cooperating law enforcement agencies tends naturally to breed legitimate suspicion of “working arrangements” whose results are equally tainted. . . .

 

            There are those who say, as did Justice (then Judge) Cardozo, that under our constitutional exclusionary doctrine “[t]he criminal is to go free because the constable has blundered.” . . . In some cases this will undoubtedly be the result. But, . . . “there is another consideration—the imperative of judicial integrity.” . . . The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence. As Mr. Justice Brandeis, dissenting, said in Olmstead v. United States: “Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. . . . If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.” . . . Nor can it lightly be assumed that, as a practical matter, adoption of the exclusionary rule fetters law enforcement. Only last year this Court expressly considered that contention and found that “pragmatic evidence of a sort” to the contrary was not wanting. . . .

 

            The ignoble shortcut to conviction left open to the State tends to destroy the entire system of constitutional restraints on which the liberties of the people rest. Having once recognized that the right to privacy embodied in the Fourth Amendment is enforceable against the States, and that the right to be secure against rude invasions of privacy by state officers is, therefore, constitutional in origin, we can no longer permit that right to remain an empty promise. Because it is enforceable in the same manner and to like effect as other basic rights secured by the Due Process Clause, we can no longer permit it to be revocable at the whim of any police officer who, in the name of law enforcement itself, chooses to suspend its enjoyment. Our decision, founded on reason and truth, gives to the individual no more than that which the Constitution guarantees him, to the police officer no less than that to which honest law enforcement is entitled, and, to the courts, that judicial integrity so necessary in the true administration of justice.

 

            The judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio is reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

 

            Reversed and remanded.

 

 

Mr. Justice Black, concurring.

 

            I am still not persuaded that the Fourth Amendment, standing alone, would be enough to bar the introduction into evidence against an accused of papers and effects seized from him in violation of its commands. For the Fourth Amendment does not itself contain any provision expressly precluding the use of such evidence, and I am extremely doubtful that such a provision could properly be inferred from nothing more than the basic command against unreasonable searches and seizures. Reflection on the problem, however, in the light of cases coming before the Court since Wolf, has led me to conclude that when the Fourth Amendment’s ban against unreasonable searches and seizures is considered together with the Fifth Amendment’s ban against compelled self-incrimination, a constitutional basis emerges which not only justifies but actually requires the exclusionary rule. . . .

 

 

Mr. Justice Douglas, concurring. . . .

 

 

Mr. Justice Harlan, whom Mr. Justice Frankfurter and Mr. Justice Whittaker join, dissenting.

 

            In overruling the Wolf case the Court, in my opinion, has forgotten the sense of judicial restraint which, with due regard for stare decisis, is one element that should enter into deciding whether a past decision of this Court should be overruled. Apart from that I also believe that the Wolf rule represents sounder Constitutional doctrine than the new rule which now replaces it.

 

            From the Court’s statement of the case one would gather that the central, if not controlling, issue on this appeal is whether illegally state-seized evidence is Constitutionally admissible in a state prosecution, an issue which would of course face us with the need for re-­examining Wolf. However, such is not the situation. For, although that question was indeed raised here and below among appellant’s subordinate points, the new and pivotal issue brought to the Court by this appeal is whether section 2905.34 of the Ohio Revised Code making criminal the mere knowing possession or control of obscene material, and under which appellant has been convicted, is consistent with the rights of free thought and expression assured against state action by the Fourteenth Amendment. That was the principal issue which was decided by the Ohio Supreme Court, which was tendered by appellant’s Jurisdictional Statement, and which was briefed and argued in this Court.

 

            In this posture of things, I think it fair to say that five members of this Court have simply “reached out” to overrule Wolf. With all respect for the views of the majority, and recognizing that stare decisis carries different weight in Constitutional adjudication than it does in nonconstitutional decision, I can perceive no justification for regarding this case as an appropriate occasion for re-examining Wolf. . . .

 

            I would not impose upon the States this federal exclusionary remedy. The reasons given by the majority for now suddenly turning its back on Wolf seem to me notably unconvincing.

 

            First, it is said that “the factual grounds upon which Wolf was based” have since changed, in that more States now follow the Weeks exclusionary rule than was so at the time Wolf was decided. While that is true, a recent survey indicates that at present one-half of the States still adhere to the common-law non-exclusionary rule, and one, Maryland, retains the rule as to felonies. . . . But in any case surely all this is beside the point, as the majority itself indeed seems to recognize. Our concern here, as it was in Wolf, is not with the desirability of that rule but only with the question whether the States are constitutionally free to follow it or not as they may themselves determine, and the relevance of the disparity of views among the States on this point lies simply in the fact that the judgment involved is a debatable one. Moreover, the very fact on which the majority relies, instead of lending support to what is now being done, points away from the need of replacing voluntary state action with federal compulsion.

 

            The preservation of a proper balance between state and federal responsibility in the administration of criminal justice demands patience on the part of those who might like to see things move faster among the States in this respect. . . .

 

 

Memorandum of Mr. Justice Stewart.

 

            Agreeing fully with Part I of Mr. Justice Harlan’s dissenting opinion, I express no view as to the merits of the constitutional issue which the Court today decides. I would, however, reverse the judgment in this case, because I am persuaded that the provision . . . upon which the petitioner’s conviction was based is, in the words of Mr. Justice Harlan, not “consistent with the rights of free thought and expression assured against state action by the Fourteenth Amendment.”