American Constitutional Law: Introductory Essays & Selected Cases

By Alpheus Thomas Mason; William M. Beaney | Go to book overview

valuable for evidential purposes. This was held an unreasonable search and seizure within the Fourth Amendment. A stealthy entrance in such circumstances became the equivalent to an entry by force. There was actual entrance into the private quarters of defendant and the taking away of something tangible. Here we have testimony only of voluntary conversations secretly overheard.

The amendment itself shows that the search is to be of material things- the person, the house, his papers, or his effects. The description of the warrant necessary to make the proceeding lawful is that it must specify the place to be searched and the person or things to be seized. . . . The language of the amendment cannot be extended and expanded to include telephone wires, reaching to the whole world from the defendant's house or office. The intervening wires are not part of his house or office, any more than are the highways along which they are stretched. . . .

Congress may, of course, protect the secrecy of telephone messages by making them, when intercepted, inadmissible in evidence in federal criminal trials, by direct legislation, and thus depart from the common law of evidence. But the courts may not adopt such a policy by attributing an enlarged and unusual meaning to the Fourth Amendment. The reasonable view is that one who installs in his house a telephone instrument with connecting wires intends to project his voice to those quite outside, and that the"wires beyond his house, and messages while passing over them, are not within the protection of the Fourth Amendment. Here those who intercepted the projected voices were not in the house of either party to the conversation.

Neither the cases we have cited nor any of the many federal decisions brought to our attention hold the Fourth Amendment to have been violated as against a defendant, unless there has been an official search and seizure of his person or such a seizure of his papers or his tangible material effects or an actual physical invasion of his house "or curtilage" for the purpose of making a seizure.

We think, therefore, that the wire tapping here disclosed did not amount to a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

What has been said disposes of the only question that comes within the terms of our order granting certiorari in these cases. But some of our number, departing from that order, have concluded that there is merit in the twofold objection, overruled in both courts below, that evidence obtained through intercepting of telephone messages by government agents was inadmissible, because the mode of obtaining it was unethical and a misdemeanor under the law of Washington. To avoid any misapprehension of our views of that objection we shall deal with it in both of its phases.

While a territory, the English common law prevailed in Washington, and thus continued after her admission in 1889. The rules of evidence in criminal cases in courts of the United States sitting there consequently are those of the common law. . . .

The common-law rule is that the admissibility of evidence is not affected by the illegality of the means by which it was obtained. . . .

Nor can we, without the sanction of congressional enactment, subscribe to the suggestion that the courts have a discretion to exclude evidence, the admission of which is not unconstitutional, because unethically secured. This would be at variance with the commonlaw doctrine generally supported by authority. There is no case that sustains, nor any recognized text-book that gives

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American Constitutional Law: Introductory Essays & Selected Cases
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Source Materials ix
  • Contents xi
  • One - The Constitution, the Supreme Court, and Judicial Review 3
  • Marbury V. Madison 30
  • Eakin V. Raub 34
  • Cohens V. Virginia 39
  • Luther V. Borden 46
  • Coleman V. Miller 50
  • Colegrove V. Green 55
  • Yakus V. United States 57
  • Two - Congress, the Court, and the President 62
  • Mississippi V. Johnson 75
  • Mcgrain V. Daugherty 77
  • Hampton & Co. V. United States 81
  • Panama Refining Co. V. Ryan 85
  • Opp Cotton Mills V. Administrator 89
  • The Prize Cases 91
  • Myers V. United States 96
  • Humphrey's Executor V. United States 102
  • Ex Parte Grossman 105
  • United States V. Curtiss-Wright 108
  • Youngstown Co. V. Sawyer 112
  • Three - Federalism 120
  • Chisholm V. Georgia 135
  • Texas V. White 142
  • Mcculloch V. Maryland 146
  • Collector V. Day 158
  • Helvering V. Gerhardt 162
  • Graves V. New York Ex Rel. O'Keefe 164
  • New York V. United States 168
  • Ex Parte Siebold 174
  • Missouri V. Holland 176
  • Four - Commerce Power and State Power 178
  • Gibbons V. Ogden 193
  • Cooley V. Board of Wardens 202
  • Brown V. Maryland 206
  • Brown V. Houston 211
  • United States V. South-Eastern Underwriters Association 213
  • Leisy V. Hardin 221
  • Plumley V. Massachusetts 224
  • Best & Co. V. Maxwell 228
  • Henneford V. Silas Mason Co. 230
  • Parker V. Brown 232
  • Southern Pacific Co. V. Arizona 235
  • Hood V. Dumond 239
  • Morgan V. Virginia 245
  • Five - Congressional Power Under the Commerce Clause 248
  • United States V. E. C. Knight 266
  • Champion V. Ames the Lottery Case) 271
  • The Shreveport Case (houston, E. & W. Texas Ry. Co. V. United States) 276
  • Hammer V. Dagenhart 278
  • Stafford V. Wallace 282
  • Schechter Poultry Corporation V. United States 284
  • Carter V. Carter Coal Co. 290
  • National Labor Relations Board V. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation 297
  • Mulford V. Smith 303
  • United States V. Darby 305
  • Wickard V. Filburn 308
  • Six - National Taxing and Spending Power 311
  • Hylton V. United States 319
  • Pollock V. Farmers' Loan and Trust Company (rehearing) 321
  • Mccray V. United States 326
  • Bailey V. Drexel Furniture Company (child Labor Tax Case) 328
  • United States V. Butler 330
  • Steward Machine Co. V. Davis 337
  • Seven - The Contract Clause and State Police Power 343
  • Calder V. Bull 355
  • Dartmouth College V. Woodward 360
  • Charles River Bridge V. Warren Bridge 365
  • Stone V. Mississippi 372
  • Home Building & Loan Association V. Blaisdell 373
  • Eight - The Development of Due Process 380
  • Slaughterhouse Cases 389
  • Munn V. Illinois 397
  • Mugler V. Kansas? 404
  • Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Co. V. Minnesota 408
  • Nine - The Application of Due Process After 1890 411
  • Lochner V. New York 424
  • Bunting V. Oregon 429
  • Block V. Hirsh 430
  • Green V. Frazier 434
  • Wolff Packing Co. V. Court of Industrial Relations 437
  • Adkins V. Children's Hospital 439
  • Nebbia V. New York 446
  • West Coast Hotel Co. V. Parrish 450
  • Ten - Equal Protection of Laws 454
  • Civil Rights Cases 465
  • Plessy V. Ferguson 472
  • Truax V. Raich 476
  • Truax V. Corrigan 479
  • Liggett Co. V. Lee 485
  • United States V. Classic 490
  • Smith V. Allwright 494
  • Sweatt V. Painter 498
  • Brown V. Topeka Briggs V. Elliott Davis V. Prince Edward County Bolling V. Sharpe Gebhart V. Belton - The Public School Segregation Cases 501
  • Eleven - Civil LIberties -- Criminal Procedure 505
  • Hurtado V. California 514
  • Olmstead V. United States 521
  • Powell V. Alabama 525
  • Palko V. Connecticut 530
  • Chambers V. Florida 532
  • Adamson V. California 535
  • United States V. Rabinowitz 542
  • Ex Parte Milligan 546
  • In Re Yamashita 551
  • Twelve - Civil LIberties -- the First Amendment Freedoms 558
  • Schenck V. United States 571
  • Meyer V. Nebraska 572
  • Gitlow V. New York 574
  • Whitney V. California 580
  • Near V. Minnesota 585
  • Cantwell V. Connecticut 590
  • Minersville School District V. Gobitis 593
  • Korematsu V. United States 602
  • Mccollum V. Board of Education 607
  • Zorach V. Clauson 612
  • Terminiello V. Chicago 616
  • American Communications Association V. Douds 622
  • Dennis V. United States 631
  • Appendix - The Constitution of the United States of America 643
  • Justices of the Supreme Court: 1789-1954 660
  • Table of Cases 663
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