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Policing From the Gut: Anti-Intellectualism in American Criminal Procedure

NCJ Number
Maryland Law Review Volume: 69 Issue: 2 Dated: 2010 Pages: 261-343
Brian J. Foley
Date Published
83 pages
This paper discusses how anti-intellectualism has impacted recent decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding increased police powers in search and seizure cases.
The author describes anti-intellectualism as an antipathy towards thinking and posits that recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding police powers have been affected by this type of reasoning primarily to the detriment of the poor and minorities. This article examines some of these cases and explores the reasoning and rhetoric used by the Court to make these decisions. In recent years, anti-intellectualism in American society has been on the rise. This change has affected all areas of American culture, including the criminal justice system. The affect on the criminal justice system can be seen in recent decisions by the Supreme Court that increased police powers for search and seizure without requiring the police to think about the suspects' civil liberties. Part I of this article provides an introduction to this problem while Part II briefly examines the concept of anti-intellectualism. Part III of the article discusses six recent Supreme Court decisions that the author believes show the Courts use of anti-intellectualism in their reasoning. These cases are New York v. Belton, Illinois v. Gates, Davis v. United States, Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, Devenpeck v. Alford, and Virginia v. Moore. Part IV of the article presents two cases, Tennessee v. Garner and Berkemer v. McCarthy, where the Court decided that rigorous thinking by the police is not only possible, but also required. The last two sections of the article, Parts V and VI, examine the harms caused by the anti-intellectual decisions and conclude that the reasoning in these anti-intellectual cases should be reexamined, respectively.