Most of the legal declarations that make up the Bill of Rights, including the Fourth Amendment, were founded on the Common Law, which existed in the 16th and 17th century in England. As a matter of fact, three British law-related cases prompted the Fourth Amendment. Two out of the three cases were tried in England, and the other, adjudicated in America during the 17th century.
The two cases adjudicated in England, Entick v. Carrington in 1765 and Wilkes v. Wood in 1763, were about similar issues. In both cases, Entick and Wilkes were accused “of seditious libel” for indirectly condemning the king by criticizing his ministers.
The men disseminated written statements criticizing actions of the king. The king therefore passed a warrant that allowed his agents to search the residences of the men, and seize every written statement found. This action incited Entick and Wilkes to file lawsuits against the king for damages.
They claimed that it was not right for the king’s agents to search their residences in a forcible manner and impounded all their written properties.
Lord Camden, the judge in charge of the case, concurred with the plaintiffs and thereby made a pronouncement that the warrant issued by the king to carry out the search, as well as the actions of his agents were indeed wrong on the grounds that the issued warrant permitted the agents to confiscate all their written belongings instead of confiscating only the written materials that were pertinent to allegations, and that the warrant was passed in the absence of a reasonable cause.
Also, the Fourth Warrant was inspired by the case between English Monarchs and American colonies. British Crowns imposed taxes on colonists in order to clear war debts. This action forced American traders to smuggle goods in a bid to dodge exorbitant taxes.
As a result, the British crown issued General Warrant, also referred to as Writs of Assistance, to their custom officers, which empowered them to search and impound possessions of people suspected of smuggling items. The Writs of Assistance, permitted government officials to search and impound virtually anything without reasonable cause. Writs of Assistance attained loss of right in 1763, when the French and Indian War ended.
This event led to the extinction of General Warrant. The Fourth Amendment was therefore incorporated into the United States Constitution in 1791 upon the enactment of the Bill of Rights. Even after acceptance of the Fourth Amendment, issues of search and seizure were not well recognized until 1914 when the Supreme Court case, Weeks v. United States, instituted the “exclusionary rule”.
As determined by this rule, the court will not recognize any evidence presented by the government that is contrary to the Fourth Amendment rights of the suspect, and such evidence is not sufficient to declare that person guilty.
In recent times, legal and political pundits have debated about the advantages of the exclusionary rule. Those against the rule argue that it abuses justice, and defends the guilty. Others in support of the rule are of the opinion that it prevents violation of human right by overzealous officers of the law.