You are on page 1of 3

Case Title #89 Katz v.

United States
G.R. no. 389 U.S. 347
Main Topic Section 3 - Privacy of Communication and Correspondence
Other Related Topic Section 2- Search and Seizures


 "The Government's activities in electronically listening to and recording the petitioner's words
violated the privacy upon which he justifiably relied while using the telephone booth and thus
constituted a 'search and seizure' within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment." – Justice
 Regardless of the location, a conversation is protected from unreasonable search and seizure
under the Fourth Amendment if it is made with a "reasonable expectation of privacy".
 Wiretapping counts as a search (physical intrusion is not necessary).


 Katz was arrested after FBI agents overheard him making illegal gambling bets while in a
public phone booth. The agents placed electronic listening and recording devices to the
outside of the booth and only heard and recorded Kat’z end of the conversations.

Procedural History
 At trial, Katz objected to the introduction of evidence of the telephone conversation. Howerver,
the trial court allowed the evidence. The appellate court upheld the conviction, holding that
Katz’s Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures was not
infringed upon because the agents never physically entered the phone booth. The U.S. Supreme
Court reversed the lower court.

 Katz argued that the telephone booth was a constitutionally protected area and the FBI violated
his right to privacy by attaching the bugs to the phone booth. The government argued that it did
not violate Kat’z right to privacy because none of the agents invaded the booth before
performing the search and/or seizure.

Kwentong Maikli ni Juan:

 Nilagyan nila ng BUG yung telephone booth, it was a listening device placed on ‘TOP’ of the
booth. So noong after 6 surveillance, they requested for a search warrant based solely on their
 The Search Warrant was approved and searched the house of Katz and the case was built upon
that recording and the things found in his house.
 So the thinking Juan is pondering if such evidence they found inside the House came from a
Poisonous Tree.
 BAKA KASI MAGASK NG MORE DETAILS, pero this detail is negligible.
Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), is a United States Supreme Court case discussing the
nature of the "right to privacy" and the legal definition of a "search". The Court's ruling refined
previous interpretations of the unreasonable search and seizure clause of the Fourth Amendment to
count immaterial intrusion with technology as a search, overruling Olmstead v. United
States and Goldman v. United States. Katz also extended Fourth Amendment protection to all areas
where a person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy".


 Whether or not the government violate Kat’z Fourth Amendment rights when its agents
attached electronic listening and recording devices to the outside of the phone booth.

 YES. The government violated Kat’z right to privacy. Reversed the ruling of the lower
court. VOTE: 7-1

 The Court stated that both parties had formulated the issue incorrectly. Instead of asking
whether a telephone booth can be characterized as a “constitutionally protected area,” the
proper questions is whether electronically listening to and recording Katz conversation
violated his right to privacy.

 The Court reasoned that the Fourth Amendment right to privacy protects people, not
places. Previous case law held that in order for the right to privacy to be violated, the
government had to infringe upon tangible property. In Warden v. Hayden, another 1967
case, the Court discredited the “trespass doctrine,” which held that property interests no
longer controlled the government’s right to search and seizures.

 In the instance case, the government contended that Katz’s use of a see-through booth
meant that he was still just as visible inside the booth as outside of it. However, the Court
noted that Katz was not trying to get away from the “intruding eye,” instead, he was
fleeing the “uninvited ear.” His use of a glass phone booth with a closed door did not
publicize his conversation, only his appearance. The FBI agents did not have a warrant
and thus did not have to confide their investigation within the confines of a warrant. Even
though the agents restrained themselves and did not unnecessarily invade Katz’s privacy,
they solely based their actions on their belief that Katz would return to the same pay
phone and the same time every day to make illegal gambling bets. The Court reiterated
that the U.S. Constitution requires the impartial judgment of a judicial officer to stand
between citizens and the police. Because searches conducted without judicial process are
per se unreasonable, this case was REVERSED.
 In a concurring opinion, Justice Harlan built upon the foundations of the majority opinion and
formulated the "reasonable expectation" test for determining whether government activity
constitutes a search. Harlan's test, not the majority opinion, is the most common formulation
cited by courts. Later, this test was arranged into a two prong test for determining the
existence of privacy: If (1) the individual "has exhibited an actual
(subjective) expectation of privacy", and (2) society is prepared to recognize that this
expectation is (objectively) reasonable, then there is a right of privacy in the given
circumstance. This test was adopted by the majority in Smith v. Maryland (1979).
 Justice BLACK dissented, noting that it was not the Court’s role to rewrite the Fourth
Amendment to remove the limitation to tangible property. He stated that a warrant cannot
be obtained regarding a future conversation, as the police would not be able to describe
such a conversation in the warrant application.

 Moreover, the Fourth Amendment, as a whole, was only meant to protect "things" from
physical search and seizure; it was not meant to protect personal privacy. Additionally, Black
argued that the modern act of wiretapping was analogous to the act of eavesdropping, which
was around even when the Bill of Rights was drafted. Black concluded that if the drafters of
the Fourth Amendment had meant for it to protect against eavesdropping they would have
included the proper language.
WIKIPEDIA: For more reference:
The Court ruled 7–1 in favor of Katz, with Justice Black in dissent. Justice Marshall did not
participate in the vote. Writing for the majority, Justice Stewart wrote, "One who occupies [a
telephone booth], shuts the door behind him, and pays the toll that permits him to place a call is
surely entitled to assume that the words he utters into the mouthpiece will not be broadcast to the
world."[2] Certain details, such as shutting the door on the telephone booth, help determine if a
person intends for a conversation to be private. Thus, private conversations can be made in public
Justice Harlan's concurring opinion summarizes the essential holdings of the majority:
(a) that an enclosed telephone booth is an area where, like a home, and unlike a field, a person has
a constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy; (b) that electronic as well as physical
intrusion into a place that is in this sense private may constitute a violation of the Fourth
Amendment; and (c) that an invasion of a constitutionally protected area by federal authorities is, as
the Court has long held, presumptively unreasonable in the absence of a search warrant.[2]
The majority opinion by Justice Stewart did not dispute that a magistrate "could constitutionally have
authorized" the wiretap in this case, but, since such a warrant was neither sought nor obtained, the
search was therefore unconstitutional.[3] Likewise, the Court said it was not recognizing any general
right to privacy in the Fourth Amendment: "the protection of a person's general right to privacy—his
right to be let alone by other people—is, like the protection of his property and of his very life, left
largely to the law of the individual States."[4]
The Katz case made government wiretapping by both state and federal authorities subject to the
Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements.