Constitutional Law


As a clerk for an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, prepare a 4–5-page opinion for the Court based on the following facts: James Smith was arrested for burglarizing his next door neighbor’s apartment in the state of California. And without the benefit of a warrant, the neighbor, who is a friend of Mr. Smith, forced open the front door to Mr. Smith’s apartment and saw his property. The neighbor called the police, and they immediately arrested Mr. Smith for burglary and possession of stolen property out of fear that he would get rid of the property before they returned with a search warrant. Mr. Smith’s conviction in the state and federal courts were upheld, and it is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.Prepare the Court’s response to this constitutional challenge that Mr. Smith was denied equal protection under the law. 

  • Identify specific examples in the language of prior decisions. 

  • Examine some of the arguments used by the framers of the Constitution while debating the language of the document. 

  • Include any philosophical underpinning that might influence the court’s ruling. 

  • Include any social forces that could be useful to guide the decision. 

  • Outline major philosophical arguments of the U.S. Supreme Court in such cases as Weeks v. United States ( and Mapp v. Ohio ( 

  • Use specific references to support your position from the U.S. Constitution.

Sample paper

Constitutional Law

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects every individual’s personal privacy, and every person’s right to be free from unwarranted government intrusion in their homes, businesses and property, regardless of whether it is through police stops and checks or the search of their homes. In the context of Mr. Smith’s Arrest, he was arrested without a warrant of arrest and there was a search, which was conducted by a private citizen on his premises without a search warrant, the courts upheld his arrest and subsequent conviction thus implying that all due process was followed before reaching at the verdict. The constitutionality of search and arrest without a warrant was challenged in the case of PayTon v. Newyork, (1980)  (Payton v. New York | Casebriefs, 2017).

The Supreme Court consolidated two cases where the police gained entry into the defendants’ home without a search warrant and seized evidence found in the house. The rule of law as read out under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment posits that the United States Constitution has prohibited warrantless entry and search of a premise, absent the exigent circumstances, regardless the existence of a probable cause. The courts in Payton held that the Fourth Amendment made it a violation to enter a premise during an arrest absent an arrest warrant and exigent circumstances; a person’s house is a critical point to which the constitutional safeguards should be respected.

In Riley v. California (2014) The question before the Supreme court was to decide whether the evidence which was submitted during trial were obtained through a search conducted in violation of the petitioners Fourth Amendment rights which provides and guarantees for freedom from unreasonable searches. The Supreme Court was unanimous in its decision, in an opinion wrote by the Chief Justice John G. Roberts, he stated that a warrantless search would only be an exception following the arrest that exists for reasons of protecting the officers’ safety and for the preservation of evidence, none which was at issue in search for digital data  (“{{meta.pageTitle}}”, 2017).

The framers of the Constitution had deep disagreements over the core provisions of the document. One of the disagreements concerned the issue of federal vs. state jurisdiction. There was a major disagreement over whether there should have been an ultimate arbiter specifically dealing with the language of the document. The most contentious issue was slavery. The major debate concerned the morality of slavery. Although slavery had been legal for a long time, there were growing voices of discontent over slavery. Slavery was seen as an immoral trade that defined the past. Another key issue addressed by the framers concerned history of the U.S. There was a strong contention about slavery between the Southern proslavery states and the antislavery states in the North. The framers of the Constitution had to consider the interests of these different groups.

The framers of the Constitution wanted to tolerate slavery basing on the public opinion at the time, which was divided on the issue of slavery. The framers of the Constitution focused on the document’s language in order to solve some of these controversial issues. The argument was that the Constitution provides for civil liberty, which meant that slavery was illegal. In light of this, the Fugitive Slave Laws were considered unconstitutional. The slavery issue had a political dimension. Each of the candidates involved in the debate hoped to win votes by either supporting or condemning slavery. Congress evaluated laws regarding how to handle the issue of slavery and mainly in light of the new territories being acquired. As more territories came up, there were concerns over how the issue of slavery would be addressed

The philosophical underpinnings that exist to buttress opinion of the court vis-à-vis arrest without an arrest and seizure without an arrest warrant can be examined within the purviews of substantive due process and fundamental rights. The Fourteenth Amendment reads that no state will deprive an individual their right of life, liberty and property without the process of the law. The law is applicable to the states and local governments. The Due process clause of the Fifth Amendment will only be applicable to the federal government; majority of the due process issues will involve the states. Each due process clause analysis will begin with asking whether the government had deprived an individual of life, liberty or property. When there is a governmental action, and deprivation suffices, the due process issue will be said to exist, substantive or procedural. In procedural due process, the issue under analysis is whether the procedure outlined by the constitution prior to deprivation of the defendants’ life, liberty and property has been followed.

Excessive force is a philosophical underpinning that can be used to guide the decision of the Supreme Court. The Supreme in Graham v. Conor (1989) entered the decision that the all claims of the law enforcement officers where excessive force has been used in the course of effecting arrest, an investigative stop or other seizures should be analyzed under the fourth amendment protection clause against unreasonable seizures. When courts are examining claims instituted by pretrial detainees, they will look at instances where they were deprived of their liberties (Karsch, 1990).

Deadly force is a concept in social science that denotes use of force that is greater than that which would be reasonable given the circumstances. When a police officer uses deadly force, the same will be held to be a seizure within the scope of the Fourth Amendment, the application of the force should therefore be commensurate and reasonable. Based on an analogy of the fact nature of the officers application of force will be reasonable or excessive shall depend on the totality of the circumstances that surround the particular encounter (“The 4th Amendment and deadly force”, 2017). When the officer is of the firm belief that the suspects’ actions will place them and their partners in sight a position of imminent danger of grievous bodily harm or death, they can reasonably use deadly force. Superimpose this notion to the facts of the case, it is imperative to state that the use of deadly force could have been a violation of the suspects’ rights because he did not resist arrest and did not possess a deadly weapon.

For a number of years, the Fourth Amendment was did not benefit criminal defendants because of the evidence which was seized by law enforcement that violates the warrants and reasonable requirements, a philosophical underpinning, misconduct by the law enforcement was elaborated in Weeks v. United States(1914). The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a defendant who was convicted based on evidence that was seized by federal agents absent a warrant and any constitutional justification, creating a principle called the exclusionary rule. Mapp v. Ohio (1961) became the first case where the Supreme Court made it mandatory for the exclusionary rule to be applicable to the states (“The Fourth Amendment and the Exclusionary Rule – FindLaw”, 2017).



{{meta.pageTitle}}. (2017). {{meta.siteName}}. Retrieved 12 June 2017, from   

The Fourth Amendment and the Exclusionary Rule – FindLaw. (2017). Findlaw. Retrieved 12 June          2017, from   exclusionary-rule.html

The 4th Amendment and deadly force. (2017). PoliceOne. Retrieved 12 June 2017, from   

Payton v. New York | Casebriefs. (2017). Retrieved 12 June 2017, from          israel/arrest-search-and-seizure/payton-v-new-york-2/

 FindLaw’s United States Supreme Court case and opinions.. (2017). Findlaw. Retrieved 10 June             2017, from


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