CrimProf Blog

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Re on The Positive Law Floor on the Fourth Amendment

Re richardRichard M. Re (University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law) has posted The Positive Law Floor (129 Harv. L. Rev. F. 313 (2016)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The positive law model of the Fourth Amendment maintains that a search or seizure occurs if, but only if, a private party could not lawfully perform the conduct that the government actually engaged in. The positive law model thus treats laws applicable to private parties as a ceiling on Fourth Amendment protections. But government action is fundamentally different — and often more deserving of regulation — than similar conduct by private parties. Due to its distinctive capabilities, incentives, and social role, the government often threatens the people’s security in ways that private parties simply do not. Still, we can learn from analogies to private parties without being limited by them. The way to do that, I briefly suggest, is to view privacy-related measures applicable to private parties as presumptively triggering the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches. I call this alternative approach the “positive law floor.”

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