Skip to main content
Human Dignity Under the Fourth Amendment
Wisconsin Law Review (2008)
  • John D. Castiglione
Fourth Amendment "reasonableness" jurisprudence as currently constituted is incapable of providing consistent decisions reflective of the underlying philosophical and moral structure of the Constitution. Increasingly, courts have allowed reasonableness analysis to devolve into little more than an awkward balancing exercise between the needs of law enforcement and the interests of "privacy." Upon initial consideration, this seems appropriate; the Fourth Amendment has been long been understood as a bulwark against unreasonable privacy invasions in the course of law enforcement. This understanding is, however, incomplete. As courts have moved towards an almost exclusive focus on privacy as the counter-balance to the government's law enforcement interest, the government's interests have predominated and the sphere of protection afforded to the individual has shrunk. Privacy, an exceedingly broad and often misunderstood concept, is unequal to the task of providing a doctrinal framework that supports a vigorous Fourth Amendment. In this article, I propose that human dignity, as defined, should stand alongside privacy as a primary animating principle of the Fourth Amendment. While "human dignity" as a concept has always existed around the periphery of constitutional search and seizure jurisprudence, and has intermittently been cited by the Supreme Court as a consideration in the reasonableness analysis, it has been severely underdeveloped both in the case law and in the academic literature. I seek to bring dignity to the fore as a usable interpretive device that supports a truly protective Fourth Amendment.
  • criminal,
  • criminal law,
  • criminal procedure,
  • dignity,
  • human dignity,
  • Fourth Amendment,
  • search,
  • seizure,
  • reasonable,
  • reasonableness,
  • Hudson,
  • Samson,
  • Rettele,
  • Supreme Court,
  • Kant,
  • Cicero,
  • privacy,
  • prison
Publication Date
Citation Information
John D. Castiglione. "Human Dignity Under the Fourth Amendment" Wisconsin Law Review Vol. 2008 Iss. 4 (2008)
Available at: