ARKANSAS v. SANDERS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
77-1497
Petitioner 
Arkansas
Respondent 
Sanders
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner pro hac vice)
(By appointment of the Court, argued the cause for the respondent)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Local police in Little Rock, Arkansas received a tip that an individual would be arriving at the airport with a suitcase containing a significant quantity of marijuana. Upon arriving, the suspect retrieved his suitcase and left in a taxi. The police officers pursued and stopped the taxi, and ordered the driver to open the trunk which revealed the suitcase in question. The police opened the suitcase without obtaining permission from its owner and found nearly ten pounds of marijuana.

Question 

Did the warrantless search of the suitcase by the police violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments which prohibit unreasonable searches?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Sanders, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

Yes. The Court held that the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement applies to personal luggage taken from an automobile. In this case, Justice Powell applied the principle which the Court had identified in United States v. Chadwick (1977), namely, that a locked footlocker which had been loaded into a vehicle could not be opened without a warrant. Since the Little Rock police officers had exclusive control of the luggage at the time of their search, there was no danger that its contents could have been tampered with or removed before a valid warrant could have been obtained. Powell concluded that since "luggage is a common repository of one's personal effects" it is "associated with the expectation of privacy."

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ARKANSAS v. SANDERS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1978/1978_77_1497>.
ARKANSAS v. SANDERS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1978/1978_77_1497 (last visited September 10, 2014).
"ARKANSAS v. SANDERS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1978/1978_77_1497.