The petitioner Mr. Katz was arrested for illegal gambling, he had been gambling
protection of a person and not just a person?s property against illegal searches. The Fourth
Amendment written in 1791 states,
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized (Galloway 214).
an area protected by the fourth amendment. The court did state that:
knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a
subject of Fourth Amendment protection. But what he seeks to preserve as
private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally
protected…Searches conducted without warrants have been held unlawful
notwithstanding facts unquestionably showing probable cause, for the
Constitution requires that the deliberate impartial judgment of a judicial
FBI attached a tape recorder to the outside of the telephone booth. The FBI recorded him
using the phone six different times, all six conversations were around three minutes long.
They made sure that they only recorded him and not anyone else?s conversations. Katz
into the area occupied by the petitioner (Hall 482).? The Constitutional Fourth
Amendment was looked at and analyzed very carefully and the Surpreme Court decided in
Governments eavesdropping violated the privacy of Katz. ?The Fourth Amendment
governs not only the seizure of tangible items but extends as well the recording of oral
statements (Katzen 1).? The surveillance in this case could have been legal by the
constitution, but it was not part of the warrant issued. Warrants are very valuable to make
everything stated in the fourth amendment legal. The telephone booth was made of glass
so he was visible to the public, but he did not enter the booth so no one could see him, he
entered the booth so no one could hear him. A person in a telephone booth is under
protection of the Fourth Amendment,
One who occupies it, shuts the door behind him, and pays the toll that
permits him to place a call is surly entitled to assume that the words he
telephone has to come to play in private communication (Katzen 2).
But with all this evidence it was still fought that the surveillance method they used
involved no physical penetration into the telephone booth. The Fourth Amendment was
thought to limit only searches and seizures of tangible property.
The decision of the court was seven to one and Mr. Justice Marshall took no part
in the decision of the case. Mr. Justice Stewart concurred in his speech that,
transferred from the setting of a home, an office, or a hotel room to that of
a telephone booth. Wherever a man may be, he is entitled to know that he
will remain free from unreasonable searches and seizures (Katzen 4).
Mr. Justice Stewart?s feelings on the case were that the use of electronic surveillance
should be regulated. He thinks permission should be granted for the use of electronic
surveillance. Mr. Justice Douglas, with whom Mr. Justice Brennan joined, concurred that
?The Fourth Amendment draws no lines between various substantive offenses. The arrests
in cases of hot pursuit and the arrests on visible or other evidence of probable cause cut
across the board and are not peculiar to any kind of crime (Galloway 216).? Mr. Justice
Harlan concurred that like a home a telephone booth has its privacy. And the intrusion into
a place that is private is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Also, warrants are very
important in legal procedures of the court and must be followed through. Mr. Justice
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…the particular surveillance undertaken was
unreasonable absent a warrant properly authorizing it (Hall 482).
Mr. Justice Fortas and Mr. Justice Douglas concurred together and said that the fourth
amendment should be revised for todays technology. Although the right of the fourth
amendment has come up allot like the Osborn V. United States case. Now it is time to
adjust and start by saying that the FBI ?violated the privacy upon which the petitioner
justifiably relied while using the telephone booth (Levy 1097)?. Mr. Justice Black
dissented, he could not concur because he could not make the amendment say what it
didn?t know when it was written, ?I will not distort the words of the amendment in order
to keep the constitution up to date (Katzen 15).? He believes that privacy is that only
explained in the fourth Amendment and no general right is granted,
by the amendment so as to give this court the unlimited power to hold
unconstitutional everything which affects privacy…the framers…did not
these reasons I respectfully dissent(Katzen 15).
After this case the court made some requirements for electronic eavesdropping.
are strict requirements for electronic surveillance. Warrants now have to be specified for
the use of electronic devices.
New York: Facts on File, 1973.
Hall, Kermit. The Oxford Companion to The Supreme Court of The United
States. New York: Oxford, 1992.
Katzen, Sally. ?Katz V. United States?. FedWorld/FLITE Supreme Court
Decisions Homepage. 24 Sep. 1997. Online.