United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez

Facts of the Case



Does the Fourth Amendment apply to the search and seizure by United States agents of property that is owned by a nonresident alien and located in a foreign country?


No. The text of the Fourth Amendment concerns the people, suggesting a concern with persons who are part of the national community, as contrasted with aliens without any substantial connection to the U.S. Moreover, extraterritorial aliens are not even entitled to rights under the Fifth Amendment, which speaks in the relatively more universal term of person. And non-fundamental rights are not even guaranteed to inhabitants of unincorporated territories under U.S sovereign control, much less aliens. Therefore, any restrictions on searches and seizures of nonresident aliens and their foreign property must be imposed by the political branches through diplomatic understanding, treaty or legislation.

Case Information

  • Citation: 494 US 259 (1990)
  • Argued: Nov 7, 1989
  • Decided Feb 28, 1990