Exclusionary Rule In Trouble

The police are supposed to be our protectors, but in the control of a despot, they are oppressors.  The Supreme Court formally recognized early in the 20th Century that the police could not be allowed to get away with crimes in order to find and convict the guilty.  Thus was born the Exclusionary Rule.  Prosecutors and law enforcement officials have, on the one hand, complained about the rule, and on the other hand, managed to provide generally strong protection against criminals without having to violate it.  According to this article by the New York Times, the United States is unique in its adherence to the rule.  The article goes on to say that we may not adhere in the same way for long.

While it might sound reasonable to allow a judge to hold a hearing to determine whether or not tainted evidence should be allowed, we should remember that the rule is there to protect us against wanton police abuse and corruption, that the government has a vast amount of coercive power, and that it incredibly hard to identify abuse, absent the rule.  A police officer already has enormous abilities to cite, arrest, and search individuals, pragmatically speaking without cause.  Now the Court will consider weakening protections against those cases where the situation is blatant.

Keeping in mind that no rule is perfect, and that some criminals have been able to use the exclusionary rule to get their cases dismissed, the Court should tread carefully in an area where despotism looms, especially when we can argue that the rule has done its job well.

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