Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 14 (1997)

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Cite as: 519 U. S. 408 (1997)

Stevens, J., dissenting

tune to be seated in a car whose driver has committed a minor traffic offense.

Unfortunately, the effect of the Court's new rule on the law may turn out to be far more significant than its immediate impact on individual liberty. Throughout most of our history the Fourth Amendment embodied a general rule requiring that official searches and seizures be authorized by a warrant, issued "upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." 10 During the prohibition era, the exceptions for warrantless searches supported by probable cause started to replace the general rule.11 In 1968, in the landmark "stop and frisk" case Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968), the Court placed its stamp of approval on seizures supported by specific and articulable facts that did not establish probable cause. The Court crafted Terry as a narrow exception to the general rule that "the police must, whenever practicable, obtain advance judicial approval of searches and seizures through the warrant procedure." Id., at 20. The intended scope of the Court's major departure from prior practice was reflected in its statement that the "demand for specificity in the information upon which police action is predicated is the central teaching of this Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence." Id., at 21, n. 18; see also id., at 27. In the 1970's, the Court twice rejected attempts to justify suspicionless seizures that caused only "modest" intrusions on the liberty of passengers in automobiles. United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U. S. 873, 879-880 (1975); Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U. S. 648, 662-663

10 See, e. g., Amos v. United States, 255 U. S. 313, 315 (1921); Weeks v. United States, 232 U. S. 383, 393 (1914).

11 See, e. g., Carroll v. United States, 267 U. S. 132, 149 (1925) (automobile search). We had also recognized earlier in dictum the now well-established doctrine permitting warrantless searches incident to a valid arrest. See Weeks, 232 U. S., at 392; see also J. Landynski, Search and Seizure and the Supreme Court 87 (1966).


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