William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


In this Article, Professor Bacigal examines the Supreme Court's use of various perspectives in examining the reasonableness of searches and seizures. Although the Supreme Court purports to rely on a consistent method of constitutional analysis when rendering decisions on Fourth Amendment issues, the case law in this area indicates that the Court is influenced sometimes by the citizen's perspective, sometimes by the police officers' perspective, and sometimes by the perspective of the hypothesized reasonable person.

After identifying the role of perspectives in a number of seminal Court decisions, Professor Bacigal discusses the benefits and limitations of the Court's reliance on the various perspectives prevalent in criminal procedure cases. He notes that over time the Court increasingly has viewed cases solely from the police officers' perception of the reasonableness of their actions and thus that the Court has weakened the protection of citizens' Fourth Amendment rights.

Professor Bacigal advocates a principled approach to choosing perspectives and assesses several such approaches. He concludes by asking both the Court and its critics to find ways to enhance the Court's ability to balance social interests with the individual's "right to be let alone." To adequately protect this right, Professor Bacigal suggests that the Court display increased sensitivity to the individual's perspective in search and seizure cases.