The Exclusionary Rule
The effect of the 4th Amendment is to put the courts of the United States and Federal
officials, in the exercise of their power and authority, under limitations and restraints as
to the exercise of such power and authority, and to forever secure the people against all
unreasonable searches and seizures under guise of law… and the duty of giving [this
protection] force and effect is obligatory upon all entrusted under our Federal system
with the enforcement of the law.
Justice William R. Day in Weeks v. United States, 32 U.S. 383
Lord Camden’s ruling in the Wilkes set of cases and Justice Bradley’s ruling in Boyd were hailed, and still are hailed today, as great victories for the freedom of the individual. What kind of victories were theyľ Both Wilkes and Boyd were convicted of crimes and sentenced to prison on the basis of the same evidence Camden and Bradley condemned as unlawful and obtained by the government in violation of one of the most sacred rights of the individual. The only remedy they received for the government’s illegality was money damages in Wilkes’s case and the return of property in Boyd’s case.
Why did not Lord Camden or Justice Bradley consider the remedy of excluding the illegally obtained evidence in the criminal case, and thus prevent a conviction? Wouldn’t such a ruling teach the government agents the lesson that they will not be permitted to benefit from their own illegal conduct? Why did neither Wilkes nor Boyd even raise this