Copyright (c) 2002 Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University Law Journal
CASENOTE: A Potential Casualty in the War on Drugs, the Fourth Amendment Survives a Threatening Attack: Ferguson v. Charleston, 532 U.S. 67 (2001)
27 S. Ill. U. L. J. 169
Tiffany R. Ritchie *
For more than two centuries, citizens have grown accustomed to relying on Fourth Amendment protection, and have often blindly assumed its presence in situations where its applicability had yet to be directly defined. In some of these situations, to the chagrin and surprise of these citizens, the government seized upon this lack of definition and justified particular searches that did not fit the typical Fourth Amendment mold. The Supreme Court, through its evaluation of these governmental searches, has determined the bedrock measure of the constitutionality of a governmental search to be "reasonableness." 1 To be "reasonable," a search must generally be supported by a valid warrant and/or based on an individualized determination of probable cause. 2 As is so often the case in legal matters, however, the prima facie clarity of this rule has been steadily transmogrified to fit the perceived needs for justice in our ever-changing society.
In a certain group of cases where the government asserted a "special need"compelled by a public interest which outweighed the intrusion on the searched individual's interest in privacy, the Court dispensed with warrant and probable cause requirements. 3 These cases have thrown doubt onto citizens' assurance of protection from unreasonable search and seizure. If misinterpreted, further acceptance and expansion of this "special needs" doctrine threatens to strip American citizens of their "guaranteed" Fourth Amendment rights.
Recently, in Ferguson v. Charleston, 4 the United States Supreme Court checked this expansion by invalidating a suspicionless, ...
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