Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967)

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Author: Justice White

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Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967)

MR. JUSTICE WHITE, concurring.

I agree that the official surveillance of petitioner’s telephone conversations in a public booth must be subjected to the test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment and that, on the record now before us, the particular surveillance undertaken was unreasonable absent a warrant properly authorizing it. This application of the Fourth Amendment need not interfere with legitimate needs of law enforcement.*

In joining the Court’s opinion, I note the Court’s acknowledgment that there are circumstances in which it is reasonable to search without a warrant. In this connection, in footnote 23 the Court points out that today’s decision does not reach national security cases. Wiretapping to protect the security of the Nation has been authorized by successive Presidents. The present Administration would apparently save national security cases from restrictions against wiretapping. See Berger v. New York, 388 U.S. 41, 112-118 (1967) (WHITE, J., dissenting). We should not require the warrant procedure and the magistrate’s judgment if the President of the United States or his chief legal officer, the Attorney General, has considered the requirements of national security and authorized electronic surveillance as reasonable.

* The first paragraph of my Brother HARLAN’s concurring opinion is susceptible of the interpretation, although probably not intended, that this Court "has long held" eavesdropping to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment and therefore "presumptively unreasonable in the absence of a search warrant." There is no reference to any long line of cases, but simply a citation to Silverman, and several cases following it, to establish this historical proposition. In the first place, as I have indicated in this opinion, I do not read Silverman as holding any such thing, and, in the second place, Silverman was decided in 1961. Thus, whatever it held, it cannot be said it "has [been] long held." I think my Brother HARLAN recognizes this later in his opinion when he admits that the Court must now overrule Olmstead and Goldman. In having to overrule these cases in order to establish the holding the Court adopts today, it becomes clear that the Court is promulgating new doctrine instead of merely following what it "has long held." This is emphasized by my Brother HARLAN’s claim that it is "bad physics" to adhere to Goldman. Such an assertion simply illustrates the propensity of some members of the Court to rely on their limited understanding of modern scientific subjects in order to fit the Constitution to the times and give its language a meaning that it will not tolerate.

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Chicago: White, "White, J., Concurring," Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967) in 389 U.S. 347 389 U.S. 363–389 U.S. 364. Original Sources, accessed September 26, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DLSIDSE57QACD2V.

MLA: White. "White, J., Concurring." Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), in 389 U.S. 347, pp. 389 U.S. 363–389 U.S. 364. Original Sources. 26 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DLSIDSE57QACD2V.

Harvard: White, 'White, J., Concurring' in Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). cited in 1967, 389 U.S. 347, pp.389 U.S. 363–389 U.S. 364. Original Sources, retrieved 26 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DLSIDSE57QACD2V.