CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kerr on the Katz Test

Kerr orinOrin S. Kerr (George Washington University - Law School) has posted Katz Has Only One Step: The Irrelevance of Subjective Expectations (University of Chicago Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This Article argues that the “subjective expectation of privacy” test is a phantom doctrine. The test exists on paper but has no impact on case outcomes. An empirical study of cases decided in 2012 indicates that majority of judicial opinions applying Katz do not even mention the subjective expectations test; opinions that mention the test usually do not apply it; and when courts apply it, the test makes no difference to the results. 

The subjective test acts as a phantom doctrine because of an overlooked doctrinal shift. A close reading of Justice Harlan’s Katz concurrence suggests that it was originally intended to restate the holdings of the Supreme Court’s caselaw on invited exposure.

Under those cases, an individual waived Fourth Amendment rights by inviting others to observe their protected Fourth Amendment spaces. In later cases, however, the Supreme Court misunderstood this original design and recast those holdings as part of the objective prong of the test instead of the subjective test. This doctrinal shift quietly eliminated the role of the subjective test. The Supreme Court should abolish the subjective expectations test to clarify and simplify Fourth Amendment law.

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Orrin Kerr or however ya spull it, holds no sway over me. Many professors become obtuse in their writing. They are appealing to a higher level. Like Ninth Graders trying to prove themselves to Tenth Graders. One can not have empirical studies of Supreme Court decisions when one does not know what they ate for breakfast. Also, when one speaks of "prongs" when referring to the Constitution, one should only employ that for the prongs of the First Amendment. Prongers like Kerr usually get it in the wrong place.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Jun 23, 2014 5:47:26 AM

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