This paper discusses the contrast of two landmark United States (U.S.) Supreme Court cases that helped to clearly define how the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution is interpreted, and analyzes the difference between the “Constitution” and “Constitutional Law.” Two cases that are referenced in this analysis are (1) Katz v. United States, 386 U.S. 954 (U.S. March 13, 1967), and (2) Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (U.S. June 4, 1928), which differed in ruling; one eventually overturning the other. Finally, a conclusion is drawn as to the importance of these case decisions in the lives of Americans.
Constitution v. Constitutional Law
The Fourth (4th) Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” (Kanovitz, 2010). Courts use a two-part test to determine whether, at the time of the search, a defendant had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the place or things searched (Kanovitz, 2010). First, did the person actually expect some degree of privacy? Second, is the person's expectation objectively reasonable, being one that society is willing to recognize? (Kanovitz, 2010). However, in order for the 4th Amendment to be enforced, the U.S. Supreme Court acted upon the powers warranted by Congress to protect and uphold the Constitution. The 4th Amendment does not clearly define exactly what an unreasonable search is thus, leaving the interpretation to the discretion of the court. Incidentally, the 5th Amendment guards against self- incrimination by conspiring to force a person to testify against him/herself, which incorporated with the 4th Amendment, does not allow for illegally collected evidence to be admissible in court (Kanovitz, 2010). So, the court has set precedence to interpret this amendment as to assure fair administration of due process prescribed by the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments.
Olmstead - Search Interpretations
In the case of Olmstead v. United States, Olmstead and seventy two (72) co-conspirators was accused and convicted for selling liquor, which was in violation of the Eighteenth (18th) Amendment, the National Prohibition Act, which made it illegal to possess or sell liquor anywhere in the country (Olmstead v. United States, 1928). The defendants were also charged with selling and trading liquor with other people for profit while not paying income tax, which violated the U.S. Federal Income Tax Code constituting income tax evasion, though not formally charged. Some of the defendants confessed to guilt, some were tried and convicted, and others acquitted (Olmstead v. United States, 1928). Because of the interpretation of the 4th Amendment at that time,...