Essay about America Needs the Exclusionary Rule

Essay about America Needs the Exclusionary Rule

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The proposition that the exclusionary rule should be abolished is preposterous. There are few rules that are as useful in protecting the rights of the general public. Unfortunately, there are many who believe, for a number of reasons, that the exclusionary rule does more harm than good, and that American society suffers needlessly for the sake of protecting the rights of those who violate its laws. Opponents of the exclusionary rule perceive its gains to be dubious; its costs overwhelming. This perception is a flawed overestimation of the results of the rule’s principles. The principle in this case is that the exclusionary rule serves to protect the rights of the accused, and is specifically designed to create an incentive for police officials to obtain evidence without violating the rights of the accused. Should it be found that the evidence obtained was done so illegally, then the evidence is inadmissible in a court of law. The point at which most desire to attack the exclusionary rule is that it enables those who are found with incriminating items to walk free. The most ardent critics of the exclusionary rule underestimate the good done by the rule, while appealing to commonly held paranoia of losing a war on crime in order to exaggerate its weaknesses.

     The reason we make such a priority out of protecting the rights of the accused is for a very specific and simple reason: to prevent the rights of the innocent. The exclusionary rule can trace its origins to the fourth amendment, which protects us from illegal searches and seizures. Weeks v. United States set a precedent for a manner in which the judicial system can effectively enforce the fourth amendment. This principle was articulated by Justice Day in the following passage:
The tendency of those who execute the criminal laws of the country to obtain conviction by means of unlawful seizures...should find no sanction in the judgments of the courts, which are charged at all times with the support of the Constitution, and to which people of all conditions have a right to appeal for the maintenance of such fundamental rights (Arthur & Shaw 357).
Additionally, the Supreme Court has also established the exclusionary rule as being “an essential part of both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments” (Arthur & Shaw 357). What can be ascertained as a result from these two passages of legal opinion deliv...

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... officers consistently lying in order to protect themselves. The problem being the supposed truism that police officials are more trustworthy than the average citizen. Because of this, any court and especially one based upon this tort method would fail to hold a violating police official accountable for his actions.

     The exclusionary rule serves its purpose, and serves its purpose effectively. It creates a deterrent for police officers to respect one’s individual rights to privacy, and in doing so, forces them to perform their duty in a manner which is more consistent with the ideals of individual rights upon which this nation is based. If it should be at all changed, it should be to hold police officers more accountable for their illegal searches and seizures, as opposed to simply hampering their efforts toward a conviction.


1) McCloskey, James. “Convicting the Innocent”. John Arthur and William Shaw. Readings in the Philosophy of Law. 3rd Edition. Prentice Hall. 2001.

2) Wilkey, Malcolm R. and Stephen H. Sachs. “A Debate on the Exclusionary Rule”. John Arthur and William Shaw. Readings in the Philosophy of Law. 3rd Edition. Prentice Hall. 2001.

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