Due Process Clause Cases
BARRON V. BALTIMORE
Argued: February 11, 1833
Decided: February 16, 1833
Whether the guarantee in the 5th amendment that private property shall not be taken “for public use, without just compensation”, is applicable to state governments as well as the federal governments.
John Barron was the owner of a large and highly profitable wharf of the harbor in Baltimore.
His wharf was a popular docking place for ships to unload cargos and would bring Barron large sums of money. Background
As Baltimore grew, they began to construct new streets to accommodate the growth.
With larger population the much older sections of Baltimore’s harbor accumulated with debris which made the water shallower, making it difficult for big ships to get through. Claim
John Barron claimed that Baltimore’s city improvements severely damaged his harbor business by destroying his profitable business without compensating him.
The final clause of the Fifth Amendment protects basic property rights. The government can’t simply claim and take a citizen’s property. Taking the value of property is treated the same as taking the actual property.
The Court, unfortunately for Barron, found that the 5th Amendment was only applicable to the federal government and ruled in favor of Baltimore by finding that the Supreme
Court has no jurisdiction in the case because the 5th Amendment only applies to federal government actions and not state disputes.
Weeks V. United States
Argued: December 2, 1913
Decided: February 24, 1914
Whether to allow private documents to be seized and then held as evidence against citizens would have meant that the protection of the Fourth Amendment declaring the right to be secure against such searches and seizures would be of no value whatsoever. Background
On December 21, 1911 Fremont Weeks was arrested at his work. At the time of arrest, the officer conducted a search of Week’s office without a warrant. Police found lottery tickets, letters, envelopes, etc. The search revealed evidence of Weeks using the mail to transmit lottery tickets, which was prohibited by federal law. Weeks took action against the police and petitioned for the return of his private possessions.
Weeks claimed that the 4th amendment is meaningless unless it provides some real protection. To state that people are safe from unreasonable searches and seizures has little value unless it is clear that evidence from such searches cannot be used in federal court. Federal officials should not be able to break the law in order to enforce it. 4th Amendment
The Fourth Amendment states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the seizure of items from Weeks’ residence directly violated his constitutional rights. The court also held that the government’s refusal to return Week’s possessions violated the Fourth Amendment. This was the first application of what eventually became known as the exclusionary rule.
Evidence collected or analyzed in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights is sometime inadmissible for a criminal prosecution in a court of law.
Gideon V. Wainwright
Argued: January 15, 1963
Decided: March 18, 1963
Clarence Gideon was charged with breaking and entering into a Florida pool hall for stealing money from vending mention. When at court, Gideon could not afford an attorney, and when requested the court to appoint an attorney the court refused.
Gideon was found guilty and sentenced to
5 years in