Exclusionary Rule

Would one feel safe in their neighborhood knowing that guilty criminals are being let free every second? The exclusionary rule prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence in a criminal trail. There are many exclusions to the rule, which brings up the question of why the rule should even be carried out in the first place. Since the exclusionary rule is not stated in the constitution alternatives and changes can be made to the rule. A controversial topic always has people on both the pro and con side. Arguments against the rule convince many citizens that the exclusionary rule has little impact in the judicial world.

The definition of the exclusionary rule was a principle of law that illegally obtained evidence may not be admitted in court. The exclusionary rule was one of the few laws the court system had made to enforce the Forth Amendment’s unreasonable search and seizure clause. The many exceptions and alternatives to the rule caused major controversy over why the rule even stands. The rule originated from the court case Weeks v. U. S. The Forth Amendment was virtually powerless until the early 1900s. Before Weeks v. U. S. law enforcement officials faced no federal consequences for conducting illegal searches.

In 1914, the court case Weeks v. U. S. , the court applied the exclusionary rule to the federal government, not the state governments. Weeks was insignificant in terms of criminal prosecutions because most prosecution took place a the state level. Furthermore, Weeks represents what is called judicial activism. Judicial activism argues that the Justices should be active and pursue policy goals. Judicial activists believe that the law is merely policy, and judges should try to build a strong society based on their visions.

Weeks is a perfect example of judicial activism because the court has essentially created law, not found in the Constitution. The exclusionary rule can be seen as a judge created policy aimed at enforcing the Forth Amendment. In terms of incorporation, the question becomes whether or not the court will apply the exclusionary rule to the states. The Court was able to get enough strength to apply the exclusionary rule to the states, in 1961, with the court case Mapp v. Ohio. Police entered a house without a warrant because they believed that a bombing suspect was hiding out in his friend’s house.

While in the house, the police searched the house and found pornography. Prosecutors charged the homeowner with possession of pornography. The exclusionary rule now says that all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Federal Constitution was inadmissible in a criminal trial in a state court. Mapp was a huge step towards the due process model. Now that the exclusionary rule applied to the states, the Forth Amendment now had a way of enforcing itself. The victory of Mapp was relatively short because the Supreme Court had spent the last forty years slowly chipping away at the exclusionary rule.