How does the Bill of Rights and the US Supreme Court regulate the police?

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There are several amendments of the Constitution that are supposed to regulate certain actions of police and the court system. When considering this question, it may be wise to consider how the police routinely break these regulations on a daily basis and often face little to no repercussions for routine...

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There are several amendments of the Constitution that are supposed to regulate certain actions of police and the court system. When considering this question, it may be wise to consider how the police routinely break these regulations on a daily basis and often face little to no repercussions for routine human rights violations and violations of these amendments.

The Fourth Amendment limits how police can lawfully conduct searches and seizures. For instance, a cop is technically not allowed to simply stop someone on the street and conduct a random search of their person and belongings. However, for years, "stop and frisk" laws have been implemented across the country, resulting in the unconstitutional searches of hundreds of thousands of (mostly black and Lantinx) people. These searches have also resulted in case after case of rampant police brutality. When a federal judge deemed the searches unconstitutional in 2013, the numbers of these searches have sharply decreased from over 600,000 in 2011, but there are still tens of thousands of occurrences every year.

The Fifth Amendment guarantees that people have the right to not incriminate themselves. While this amendment exists, police are still allowed to use incredibly coercive and manipulative tactics to try to make someone speak to them. For instance, the police are allowed to lie, falsify statements of other people, pretend to use lie detector tests, make allusions to nonexistent deals, and more. In the 2014 Supreme Court ruling Riley v. California, the court ruled that police could not force a defendant or suspect to unlock their phone without a warrant, as this would be a violation of a persons's right against self-incrimination.

The Eighth Amendment is supposed to protect people against cruel and unusual punishment. However, this amendment is incredibly subjective and is interpreted by a hierarchical state. One can easily make the argument that the very existence of prisons, probation, and ankle monitors is cruel and unusual. The fact that people languish every day in cages across this country in solitary confinement, stripped of their freedom, and held hostage if they cannot afford bail could easily be considered "cruel."

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Three of the ten amendments from the Bill of Rights that regulate the police the most are the 4th, 5th, and 8th Amendments. Throughout the history of the United States, the Supreme Court has issued rulings in connection with these amendments to regulate the actions and abilities of law enforcement.

The 4th Amendment regulates the searches that police can conduct. It states that law enforcement can only legally conduct a search or confiscate property with a warrant based on probable cause. Originally, the 4th Amendment only applied in federal court. However, in 1949 the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Wolf v. Colorado that all courts and bodies law enforcement must uphold the rights enshrined in this amendment. The Supreme Court has issued many rulings concerning the police and this amendment ever since. Just last month the Supreme Court ruled that the police need a warrant to enter a person's private property to conduct a search of a vehicle.

The 5th Amendment assures due process under the law. It states that a person can not be compelled to make a statement that would be self-incriminating. It also protects individuals from being prosecuted for the same crime twice (double jeopardy). The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Miranda v. Arizona that the police must inform anyone arrested of their 5th Amendment rights.

The 8th Amendment protects people from "cruel and unusual punishment." This amendment means that it is unconstitutional for the police to beat or torture suspects of crimes. It also protects people from what the courts call "excessive fines." In the 1972 case of Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court established guidelines to define just what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

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There are specific amendments in the Constitution that are driven to protect the rights of the accused.  These amendments, such as clearly defining the scope and sequence of a search and seizure of property, as well as the rules governing arrests and criminal procedures help to protect the accused individuals in the country as well ensure that law enforcement officials are held to a higher standard for they are the standard.  These laws are depended upon for those accused of crimes and govern the proceedings that determine the issue of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  At the same time, even when these individuals are imprisoned, the 8th amendment helps to regulate the police's conduct in terms of application of punishment, preventing torture.

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The 4th and 5th amendments are paramount in limiting police power for how they can treat suspects or those they arrest, or private citizens on the street.  The 8th amendment also limits the use of force to what is considered "reasonable" for the situation a police officer finds him or herself in.

The Supreme Court, through its rulings over time, regulates the police by throwing out evidence gathered illegally, or as in the case of Miranda v. Arizona, freeing a suspect because he was not read his rights in a language he understood.  They rule on acceptable police procedures, and what law enforcement actions are constitutional (wiretaps, surveillance, etc.)

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The Bill of Rights, as interpreted by the Supreme Court and other courts, regulates the police by dictating to them what procedures they may and may not use in trying to apprehend suspects and gather evidence about them.

The most important part of the Bill of Rights in this regard is the 4th Amendment.  Court interpretations of this amendment regulate when police need warrants to search people and property.

Another important amendment is the 5th Amendment.  It is this amendment which gave rise to the famous Miranda case which requires police to read suspects their rights.

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