Sample Political Science Paper on The Exclusionary Rule in the US

The exclusionary rule prevents the United States justice system from using evidence collected without following the due process of law. The Supreme Court decision in Mapp v. Ohio case held that the exclusionary rule was applicable in state courts with regard to convictions using evidence obtained from unreasonable searches. The exclusionary rule doctrine is used presently to preserve the integrity of the courts and the criminal justice processes as well as foster discipline in the police force.

Causes of the Case

In the Mapp v. Ohio case, the issue was whether evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment could be used against a defendant during trial. Police officers received an anonymous tip that Dollree Mapp was concealing an individual wanted for questioning for having been involved in a bombing incident. Besides, it was believed that substantial evidence linked to the bombing case that was hidden in the house (Taft, 1964). The police sought the defendant’s consent to search the house. However, after consulting with her lawyer over the phone, the defendant refused to consent to the search (Taft, 1964). Nevertheless, the police stayed outside the home for thirteen hours before ultimately deciding to forcefully enter the house (Taft, 1964). The unsanctioned search and seizure yielded pornographic materials that were later used against the defendant during the trial. Indeed, this move contravened the Fourth Amendment; thus the applicability of the evidence was questioned.

Effects of Case and Ruling

The Supreme Court ruled on June 19, 1961, in the Mapp v. Ohio case that the evidence, which was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, was inadmissible in state courts. The ruling authored by Justice Tom Clark declared that all evidence obtained illegally through searches and seizures violate the Fourth Amendment, thus was unacceptable in state courts (Bradley, 2010). Nevertheless, the court’s decision raised considerable queries regarding how and when to implement the exclusionary rule. Justices Black, Stewart, and Douglas concurred with the ruling while Justices Harlan, Frankfurter, and Whittaker wrote dissenting opinions (Taft, 1964). The court’s decision sought to protect the rights of people and adhere to the Fourth Amendment prohibiting states from denying life, liberty, or property without following the due process of law.

Importance in Governmental System

In present-day American society, the implementation of the exclusionary rule in state courts is essential in upholding judicial integrity. The exclusionary rule’s rationale is that courts would taint their own reputation and dignity if the evidence used in a conviction was obtained without following the due process (Ho, 2016). Therefore, federal and state courts exempt compromised evidence to demonstrate to the public that they do not support improper actions of investigative institutions and their officers. Furthermore, the court’s decision helps promote the integrity of the criminal process by deterring police misconduct. The police do most investigative work, and they are the people that breach the rules during the acquisition of evidence (Cammack, 2010). As such, the integrity of the judicial process is compromised and most at risk at the level of investigations. Therefore, by implementing the exclusionary rule, courts discourage and prevent police officers from violating the laws they swore to uphold and protect.

Personal Opinion

I think that the exclusionary law is a cornerstone of the Fourth Amendment. As mentioned by Cammack (2010), the exclusionary rule is implemented by civil libertarians to protect the rights and liberties of people. Although Bradley (2012) claims that the exclusionary rule benefits guilty individuals, I believe the rule has fostered changes in police behavior and culture in that it has discouraged law enforcement officers from violating the law during investigations. In the mentioned case, while Mapp possessed pornographic materials against the law, the police violated her Fourth Amendment right when they invaded her house. The court upheld the integrity of the justice system by rejecting the evidence, which proves that the rule is meant to promote adherence to the law. I think that police testimony should be subjected to thorough scrutiny of evidence presented against consent to search during suppression hearings.


Mapp v. Ohio is a historical case as it prevented the government’s investigating agencies from using evidence acquired illegally in court cases. The Supreme Court decided that convictions should be done based on legally acquired evidence during investigations and arrests. Today, the exclusionary rule safeguards the integrity and reputation of courts and criminal processes, as well as fosters discipline among law enforcement officers. While this law may benefit criminals, overall, it serves to remind the police officers of their obligation to obey the law as they carry out their duties.



Bradley, C. (2010). Reconceiving the Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule. Law and Contemporary Problems, 73(3), 211-238.

Bradley, C. (2012). Is the exclusionary rule dead? The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 102(1), 1-23.

Cammack, M. (2010). The rise and fall of the constitutional exclusionary rule in the United States. The American Journal of Comparative Law, 58, 631-658.

Ho, H. (2016). The criminal trial, the rule of law, and the exclusion of unlawfully obtained evidence. Criminal Law, Philosophy, 10, 109–131.

Taft, K. (1964). Protecting the public from Mapp v. Ohio without amending the constitution. American Bar Association Journal, 50(9), 815-818.