CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, April 4, 2011

Taslitz on the Fourth Amendment

Taslitz andrew Andrew Taslitz (Howard University) has posted two articles about the Fourth Amendment on SSRN. The first is What is Probable Cause, and Why Should We Care? The Costs, Benefits, and Meaning of Individualized Suspicion  (Law & Contemporary Problems, Forthcoming). Here is the abstract:

The United States Supreme Court has often declared individualized suspicion to be at the heart of probable cause. Yet critics see this as a commitment in word more than deed.Other critics, primarily philosophers, so no real conceptual difference between generalized and individualized suspicion. Moreover, no one has seriously tried to define the term. This article seeks first to fill this definitional gap, second to argue that the philosophers are wrong, and third to catalogue the social benefits and costs of an individualized suspicion requirement, suggesting a more structured way to choose among types of individualized suspicion and when, if ever, to jettison all those types entirely. The article draws on philosophy, psychology, and a branch of behavioral economics - fair price theory - to make its point.

The second is The Happy Fourth Amendment: History and the People’s Quest for Constitutional Meaning (Texas Tech Law Review, Vol. 43, 2010). Here is the syllabus:

Much debate about the role of history in constitutional interpretation centers on the difference between originalism and non-originalism. Yet most writers agree that history must play some role. If it does, for what should we be looking when we mine history? Originalists say, "for the original intent of the Framers or the original meaning of the Founding moment" or some variation. Non-originalists are less clear. Starting from a non-originalist perspective, this article argues that one important thing to mine history for is lessons about what promotes individuals' and the People's happiness. The article considers the implications for this stance for Fourth Amendment interpretation. The article first defines a "People" by its shared commitments, finding the American People thus to be defined in part by the "pursuit of happiness" as stated in the Declaration of Independence. The piece argues that the Declaration has an appropriate role to play in interpreting the Constitution. Next, the piece reviews relevant historical meanings of "happiness" and its pursuit and finds them consistent with modern social science on these topics. Specifically, the article finds that happiness's pursuit for individuals and the American People partly requires that citizens, groups, and the People as a whole have an effective voice in government and that the state also work to promote certain types of equality (though not income equality). The article argues that these happiness-promoting functions are particularly central to history's role in interpreting the Fourth Amendment, concluding with three examples focusing on racial and viewpoint minorities and their interactions with the police. The article was written as part of a symposium panel on the role of history in understanding the Fourth Amendment's meaning.

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