Reason: The Fourth Amendment, the Exclusionary Rule, and Illegal Government Searches by Damon Root:
Does the U.S. Constitution forbid the government from using illegally obtained evidence against a criminal suspect in court? The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it does.
In the landmark 1914 case of Weeks v. United States, the Supreme Court announced the far-reaching legal doctrine that has come to be known as the exclusionary rule, which generally bars the use in court of such illegally obtained evidence. Weeks arose after federal officials kicked down the door of a criminal suspect, scoured his home without a search warrant, and discovered a number of incriminating documents, which were later used against him at his federal trial. The Supreme Court said such evidence must be tossed out.
“If letters and private documents can thus be seized and held and used in evidence against a citizen accused of an offense,” the Court ruled, “the protection of the Fourth Amendment declaring his right to be secure against such searches and seizures is of no value, and, so far as those thus placed are concerned, might as well be stricken from the Constitution.”