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Nix v. Williams

Exclusionary Rule Offends Law And Order Supporters

Some politicians and judges take exception to the principle of excluding evidence from a trial because it was gathered in violation of an individual's constitutional rights. President Richard Nixon nominated two Supreme Court justices who reputedly opposed the exclusionary rule, Warren Burger and William Rehnquist. Burger was appointed in 1971 and Rehnquist in 1971. The majority of the Warren Court believed that law enforcement officials should not have investigations negated by technicalities. The Rehnquist Court has promoted the view in their decisions that the "good faith" test should be employed to determine whether evidence should ultimately be admitted.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan denounced the exclusionary rule at a police convention. He stated that the exclusionary rule relies on the "absurd proposition that a law enforcement error, no matter how technical, can be used to justify throwing out an entire case" regardless of the nature of the crime and the clarity of a persons guilt. Decisions offered by the Warren, Burger, and Rehnquist Courts have generally aligned with this view, by broadening the exceptions to the exclusionary rule.

The exclusionary rule still survives, but the exceptions to it are growing. Nix v. Williams reflects the Burger-Rehnquist distaste for the exclusionary rule and provides an example of an exception to it, that of the "inevitable discovery" of evidence.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Nix v. Williams - Significance, Supreme Court Approves Inevitable Discovery Exception, Dissenters Feel Exclusionary Rule Is Undermined, Exclusionary Rule Offends Law And Order Supporters