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Protection against illegal search and seizure had a great deal of precedent in English legal history. The famous English jurist Edward Coke had ruled almost two centuries earlier that English subjects ought to be secure in their possessions in their own home, and the issuance of general warrants, which basically allowed government officials to seize people and their papers without demonstrating probable cause, had frequently been condemned by English courts. The Fourth Amendment, then, like many of the other amendments, was an attempt to secure rights that English subjects had long enjoyed in theory. Several of the state constitutions specifically outlawed general warrants. More specifically, writs of assistance, a particularly broad type of general warrant, had been used to search the houses of suspected patriots and especially tax evaders during the imperial crisis, and to the extent the authors of the Bill of Rights were responding to specific abuses, this is what they had in mind.
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