Civil Liberties Assignment

Civil Liberties Assignment

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution limits the government’s authority to conduct a search – especially of your home – without a warrant issued by a court. Here’s what it says:

"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."

Notice that it creates a right be secure in our "houses." What does your "house" entail? Is it just the inside of your home or apartment? What about your garage? What about a tool shed in your back yard? What about a car parked in your driveway?

Welcome to a 200-year old debate about “,” meaning the area immediately surrounding a home.

In this case, a man on a "distinctive orange and black motorcycle with an extended frame" had committed a series of traffic offenses, including leading police on a chase at speeds up to 140 miles-per-hour, in which he successfully escaped. An officer found a Facebook post from a Virginia man named Ryan Collins showing what appeared to be the same motorcycle. Police tracked down the address, which was the home of Mr. Collins’s girlfriend. An officer saw what appeared to be a motorcycle covered in a tarp, walked up the driveway and lifted the tarp. The motorcycle turned out to be stolen, and Mr. Collins was arrested.

Was this a legal search?

Find the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Collins v. Virginia. Write a 2 – 5 page essay explaining the facts of the case. Explain what the majority decided and why. Explain what a dissenting opinion is, and why Justice Alito wrote one to disagree with his colleagues in this case. Finally, if you were on the U.S. Supreme Court, how would you rule in this case and why?

Submit in Word. Cite your sources. (1 source is fine)

Additional Resources

I like the Cornell University Law School site for Supreme Court cases. Here’s their summary: 

And here’s the text of the case syllabus and the actual opinions: 

Here’s the official version from the U.S. Supreme Court website: 

The New York Times’ Adam Liptak is the premier journalist on U.S. Supreme Court cases: 

Here’s a Virginia Newspaper account of the case with a little more local flavor: 


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