The Fourth Amendment provides for the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Search warrants may only be issued upon a finding of probable cause. This core tenet of our constitutional republic becomes progressively flexible with every development in Fourth Amendment interpretation. In Peffer v. Stephens, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit delivered the latest blow to constitutional rights that restrict the State from engaging in unprincipled searches. In an issue of first impression, the Sixth Circuit held that a criminal defendant’s alleged use of a computer during the commission of a crime was adequate probable cause to justify a search of the defendant’s home and a seizure of the technological equipment inside. Such a shortsighted justification fails to consider technological innovation, economic policy, and historical civil liberties. Peffer v. Stephens is the latest proof of the parasitic relationship between the law and technological advancement. As technology evolves, the law struggles to keep pace and resultingly impedes economic development. With the exponential growth of technology in the 21st century, a visionary approach to search and seizure law is necessary to promote economic innovation and to refrain from further dismantling Fourth Amendment protections.
Peffer v. Stephens: Probable Cause, Searches and Seizures Within the Home, and Why Using Technology Should Not Open Your Front Door,
Tex. A&M L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/lawreview/vol7/iss3/5