July 10, 2006

Walter v. United States (1980)

Discussing the problems (or not) of splintered Supreme Court opinions, Orin Kerr gives us this description of a real doozy:

The Court split 2-2-1-4, with the fifth vote a real doozy. Two Justices, Stevens and Stewart, said that the private viewing had only eliminated privacy protection for what the private parties had seen: Thus the FBI’s viewing of the rest of the film violated the Fourth Amendment. Two Justices, White and Brennan, said that the private viewing made no difference at all, and that the private viewing had not eliminated any Fourth Amendment rights. On the other side, four Justices, Blackmun, Burger, Powell, and Rehnquist, took the view that the private viewing had eliminated all Fourth Amendment rights. The deciding vote was Justice Marshall’s, but Marshall didn’t join or write any opinion at all. Although he was the “swing vote,” Marshall chose not to express his view. The U.S. Reports simply records, “MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL concurs in the judgment.” So the Fourth Amendment was violated, but no one really knows why. Hmm, how helpful.
Posted by armand at July 10, 2006 04:38 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Law and the Courts

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