Dollree Mapp lived in Cleveland, Ohio. One day, the police broke into Mapp's house to look for a suspected bomber. Mapp had refused to let the police into her house earlier because they did not have a search warrant.
When the police broke in, they showed Mapp a piece of paper. They said
the paper was a search warrant, but they did not let her see it.
The police searched Mapp's house without her permission. They looked
in her room, her daughter's bedroom, the kitchen, the living room, and
the basement. In the basement they found a trunk. Inside the trunk were obscene
pictures, photographs, and books. The police did not find the bomber,
but they arrested Mapp anyway. They said she broke the law by having
The court found her guilty. Mapp then appealed
her case to the Supreme Court of Ohio. She said that her rights were
violated in the search. The Supreme Court of Ohio said that the actions
of the police were probably illegal. However, they also said that the evidence
(the illegal pictures) the police found could be used against Mapp,
even though the search itself may have been illegal. Mapp then appealed
her case to the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people from unreasonable
searches by the government. In Mapp's case, the Supreme Court of the
United States had to decide when a search is legal and whether evidence
from an illegal search could be used in a criminal case. In 1961, the
Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the case of Mapp v. Ohio.
Questions to Consider
Was Mapp right to not let the police enter her house? Why or why not?
Was there anything unreasonable about the police search of Mapp's house? Explain.
The Supreme Court of the United States has to protect both humans
and society. In this case, whom do you think they should protect first?
Mapp? Society? Explain your answer.
Students may use this handout to record their answers.