Alabama v. White Case Brief

Facts of the Case

The State sought review of a judgment holding that officers of Alabama police department did not have the reasonable suspicion necessary to justify an investigatory stop of respondent’s car based on an anonymous tip and that marijuana and cocaine seized were fruits of respondent’s unconstitutional detention.


“1. Did Section 484-h of New York’s Penal Law violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments on its face because it restrained expression?2. Was Section 484-h of the Penal Law unconstitutionally vague and uncertain on its face, in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?”


“Yes. In a 6-3 decision, Justice Byron R. White wrote for the majority, reversing the lower court. The Court held that the totality of the circumstances provided a sufficiently reasonable suspicion that White possessed illegal drugs. Even though police had no way to confirm the credibility of the caller, police verified many allegations made by the caller about White’s car and movements. Because the police had a reasonable suspicion, the search did not violate the Fourth Amendment.Justice John Paul Stevens dissented, stating that the majority’s standard allows anyone with enough knowledge of a person’s routine to cause police to search that person. The standard also gives officers too much freedom to claim that they received an anonymous tip to justify any search. Justice William J. Brennan and Justice Thurgood Marshall joined in the dissent.”

Case Information

Citation: 496 US 325 (1990)
Argued: Apr 17, 1990
Decided: Jun 11, 1990
Granted: Jan 16, 1990
Case Brief: 1990