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Harvard Law Review Forum

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Fourth Amendment, equilibrium-adjustment theory, constitutional law


Constitutional Law | Law


The argument that Professor Orin Kerr proffers in An Equilibrium-Adjustment Theory of the Fourth Amendment' is simple: Fourth Amendment law ought to be structured to ensure that the balance of power between government and citizenry remains constant. This equilibrium-adjustment theory is elegant and, because it rests on a relatively "neutral" historical foundation, might be attractive to judges and scholars from different perspectives. Contrary to Kerr's assertion, however, it does not easily explain many of the Court's cases, nor does it help address the most difficult Fourth Amendment issues facing the Court today. The historical foundations on which it rests are often shaky or insufficiently cognizant of modern preferences. At bottom, equilibrium-adjustment theory is originalism, and thus suffers from all of the problems associated with that methodology.



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