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Katz v. U.S.: 40 Years Later - From Warrantless Wiretaps to the War on Terror

March 9, 2007

As the fortieth anniversary of Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), approaches, there could hardly be a better time to reexamine that important decision. The case was a landmark in its time. With the declaration that the Fourth Amendment protects "people, not places" and provides protection of a "reasonable expectation of privacy," the Katz case fundamentally altered the foundation of constitutional criminal procedure.

But the case is not a relic of history. The issues that were raised in the Katz case are of continued relevance for contemporary practitioners. Lawyers are still seeking to define the sorts of electronic monitoring that should be classified as Fourth Amendment searches, even as the technologies continue to evolve. Lawyers are still working to define the scope of Fourth Amendment protections in an age of global terrorism. Just a few weeks ago, in ACLU v. National Security Agency, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a warrantless wiretapping program initiated by the National Security Agency after the events of September 11, 2001. Her opinion looks back to Katz, and to the statutes enacted in its wake. In short, many of the fundamental questions discussed in the Katz case continue to pose challenges for contemporary lawyers. We hope that our symposium will provide a useful forum for an updated exploration of those questions.

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