Nontelephonic Electronic Surveillance

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.


Annotations

Nontelephonic Electronic Surveillance.—The trespass rationale of Olmstead was used in cases dealing with “bugging” of premises rather than with tapping of telephones. Thus, in Goldman v. United States,410 the Court found no Fourth Amendment violation when a listening device was placed against a party wall so that conversations were overheard on the other side. But when officers drove a “spike mike” into a party wall until it came into contact with a heating duct and thus broadcast defendant’s conversations, the Court determined that the trespass brought the case within the Amendment.411 In so holding, the Court, without alluding to the matter, overruled in effect the second rationale of Olmstead, the premise that conversations could not be seized.


410 316 U.S. 129 (1942).

411 Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505 (1961). See also Clinton v. Virginia, 377 U.S. 158 (1964) (physical trespass found with regard to amplifying device stuck in a partition wall with a thumb tack).