Arizona v. Evans, 514 U.S. 1, 9 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 1 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

Court. This principle was enunciated in Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264 (1821), and presumably Justice Ginsburg does not quarrel with it.4 In Minnesota v. National Tea Co., 309 U. S. 551 (1940), we recognized that our authority as final arbiter of the United States Constitution could be eroded by a lack of clarity in state-court decisions.

"It is fundamental that state courts be left free and unfettered by us in interpreting their state constitutions. But it is equally important that ambiguous or obscure adjudications by state courts do not stand as barriers to a determination by this Court of the validity under the federal constitution of state action. Intelligent exercise of our appellate powers compels us to ask for the elimination of the obscurities and ambiguities from the opinions in such cases. . . . For no other course assures that important federal issues, such as have been argued here, will reach this Court for adjudication; that state courts will not be the final arbiters of important issues under the federal constitution; and that we will not encroach on the constitutional jurisdiction of the states." Id., at 557.

We therefore adhere to the standard adopted in Michigan v. Long, supra.

Applying that standard here, we conclude that we have jurisdiction. In reversing the Court of Appeals, the Arizona Supreme Court stated that "[w]hile it may be inappropriate to invoke the exclusionary rule where a magistrate has issued a facially valid warrant (a discretionary judicial function) based on an erroneous evaluation of the facts, the law, or both, Leon, 468 U. S. 897 . . . (1984), it is useful and proper

4 Surely if we have jurisdiction to vacate and remand a state-court judgment for clarification, post, at 34, n. 7, we also must have jurisdiction to determine whether a state-court judgment is based upon an adequate and independent state ground. See Abie State Bank v. Bryan, 282 U. S. 765, 773 (1931).


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