Mapp v. Ohio is a case reversed during appeal based on the enforcement of the exclusionary rule in state government. The exclusionary rule applies to the Fourth Amendment in regard to unreasonable search and seizure. It makes evidence seized illegally inadmissible in court. While the exclusionary rule sets some criminals free based on police error, to negate this remedy negates the efficacy of the amendment. In this case, Mapp was convicted of possessing obscene material when police searched her property with a false warrant for an unrelated case. The exclusionary rule not only ensures the rights of the Constitution, but it also discourages police misconduct and the seizure of property that is not permitted by law. This rule is also enforced by the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination and the 14th Amendment’s right to due process. The court also decided that there should be cooperation between federal and state laws.
The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure of personal property. In 1957, police went to Miss Mapp’s home looking for a person in question in regard to a recent bombing and in search of policy paraphernalia. She refused their entrance without a warrant, so three hours later they entered forcibly and a piece of paper was held up that they claimed was a warrant. Miss Mapp took the paper, but it was then recovered by officers before she could read it. They searched her house and found obscene material unrelated to their search for which Mapp was prosecuted. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the evidence was admissible because there was not a rule against it in the Fourteenth Amendment of due process (“Mapp v. Ohio,” n.d.). Therefore, Miss Mapp was sentenced for a crime in which evidence was illegally obtained, negating the validity and enforceability of The Fourth Amendment.
In 1914, a similar situation happened in Weeks v. United States, and the exclusionary rule was adopted to ensure that The Fourth Amendment held its power. The exclusionary rule stated that evidence that was obtained by ways that were in violation of The Fourth Amendment was not admissible in court. It was excluded from the judicial process. The exclusionary rule was viewed to be part of the constitution but was not forced upon the states. In Mapp v. Ohio, the rights given by the Fourth amendment were separated by the remedy of law (Clancy, 2013). When it was appealed in the United States Supreme Court, the decision was reversed, and it was decided that the exclusionary rule applied to the state as well as the federal government.
Justice Clark delivered the court’s opinion, and he named three reasons for the reversal of the Mapp v. Ohio decision. During delivery, he cited much case law and historical references, and he applied logic and reason to the ultimate decision of the court.
The first reason named by Justice Clark for the application of exclusionary rule on the states was that federal and state cooperation should be a goal among the government, as they share the same goal of crime solution. The governments should observe its own laws. Therefore, The Constitution of the United States should be recognized in state courts (“Mapp v. Ohio,” n.d.).
The second argument for the reversal of Mapp v. Ohio was that the 14th Amendment and due process law enforced the Fourth Amendment requiring legal search and seizure. The 14th Amendment includes the right to privacy and the right to not have the government encroach on that right. This applied to Mapp’s invasion of privacy when police entered the property under false pretenses (“Mapp v. Ohio,” n.d.).
Lastly, Justice Clark noted that the Fifth Amendment bans self-incrimination, and police searching Mapp’s property illegally were forcing self-incrimination (“Mapp v. Ohio,” n.d.). Mapp was forced to reveal incriminating material illegally because the police entered without a warrant. It would not be considered revealed but rather rightfully found had there been an appropriate warrant.
Just Clark noted that the purpose of the exclusionary rule was to deter police from unlawful searches and seizure of evidence. The determent came from the uselessness of the material if gathered unreasonable. Some criminals would be set free due to the exclusion of some evidence, but it is more important for society that the police and the government abide by their own laws and that he laws they create are enforceable. Without the exclusionary rule, it would be impossible to enforce the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, the amendment would serve no purpose.