Monday, March 27, 2017

The Liberal Evolution of Due Process (Part IV)

By the 1950’s the Fourth Amendment was put on trial through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court denied the “illegal seizure” clause case in 1949 for Wolf v. Colorado. It was an illegal abortion case where the police seized Dr. Wolf’s records (but they were in plain sight) without a warrant. The 1952 case Rachin v. California the Court granted the “illegal search” clause claim but it was done on the basis of a “fair trial” being denied and not on the basis of the Fourth Amendment. The Court set a standard called “shocks the conscience” in this case when police broke into Rachin’s home and then pumped his stomach to obtain pills he swallowed without a warrant. However, in the 1954 case Irvine v. California and the 1957 case Breithaupt v. Alabama the court denied “illegal search” claims saying the cases did not “shock the conscience”. In Irvine the police broke into his home and wire tapped his conversations without a warrant and in Breithaupt the police drew a blood sample from his unconscious body without a warrant at the scene of an accident. This led Justice Black to claim that the “fair trial” approach was not working because there were no standard’s in place such as the Bill of Rights to guide the Justices to fair decisions. Frankfurter argued that applying the Bill of Rights would prevent state Federalism and deny them to experiment in economic and criminal procedures as advancements in technology are made.

The dynamics of the Court change dramatically in the 1960’s (more liberal) and finally the (Chief Justice Earl) Warren Court was able to achieve its agenda. President Dwight Eisenhower said the biggest mistake he made in his life was appointing Earl Warren Chief Justice and he was right. The Mapp v. Ohio case in 1961 was argued by incompetent attorneys wanting to reverse the Mapp decision on confiscated pornography from her home based on the “freedom of speech” clause of the First Amendment. The oral arguments and the briefs barely mentioned the seizure methods of the pornography. Yet, the Court overruled the Mapp decision based on the Fourth Amendment’s “search and seizure” clause. For the first time the Court applied a criminal procedure clause of the Bill of Rights to the states via the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In just 12 years, the Court overturned is ruling in the Wolfe case.

The Warren Court was on a roll. The Robinson v. California case in 1962 where the oral arguments and briefs did not focus on the Eighth Amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause, but that was the decision to overturn the Robinson conviction via the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court ruled that it was cruel and unusual punishment by placing a drug addict in jail because they go through withdrawal symptoms when drying out. Robinson died when he was out on bail from an overdose. In fact, the best thing that could have happened to Robinson was to dry out in jail – the Warren Court started to rule on social issues more so than on the law. Did they best understand how to deal with drug addicts in prison even when that issue was not even argued in the case?

The case Gideon v. Wainwright in 1963 was a Sixth Amendment “right to counsel” case via the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause. Gideon was forced to defend himself since lawyers in Florida are only appointed for capital cases based on the Supreme Court 1942 decision for Betts v. Brady. The Court overturned Betts and Brady in just 20 years which resulted in thousands being released from state prisons. The case Malloy v. Hogan in 1964 involved applying the Fifth Amendment’s “self-incrimination” clause to the states via the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Connecticut court system followed all the federal standards in the Malloy case but not only was the decision overturned, but the Twining decision was also overturned. Gideon and Malloy were important cases because they were the basis for the Supreme Court’s substantive due process decision in Miranda v. Arizona in 1968 (Miranda Rights). The Court was no longer involved in criminal procedure, but police procedure. The Court expanded past applying the Bill of Rights to the states when they issued the Miranda rights decision.

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