This Article analyzes the United States Supreme Court's numerous and shifting rhetorical discourse paths for declaring whether particular governmental practices constituted unreasonable searches or seizures under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It examines how the Court has manipulated classic discourse paths arising from text, history, precedent and structure. It reveals that among and within each of these categories, the Court has created conflicting approaches. The Article argues that the Court's construction of Fourth Amendment reasonableness has depended upon which discourse paths it has selected as well as how it has characterized the values embedded within the discourse paths. The Article describes how the modern Court has selectively used these rhetorical frames to construct Fourth Amendment reasonableness as generally furthering police powers at the expense of an individual's interest in liberty, privacy, personal security, and property.

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2003

Publication Information

40 American Criminal Law Review 1387-1442 (2003)