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Wolf v. Colorado

Citation. 338 U.S. 25, 69 S. Ct. 1359, 93 L. Ed. 1782 (1949)
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Brief Fact Summary.

The petitioner, Julius Wolf (the “petitioner”) was convicted by a State court of conspiring to commit abortions based upon evidence allegedly obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure clause.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause does not prohibit the admission of evidence obtained during an apparently illegal search and seizure in State courts.


The petitioner was convicted of conspiring to commit abortions in a State court and appealed. He alleged that his Fourth Amendment constitutional right to be free from illegal searches and seizures had been violated and that any evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search and seizure should have been excluded from trial as a matter of due process. The conviction was affirmed by the Colorado Supreme Court, and certiorari was granted by the United States Supreme Court (“Supreme Court”).


Justice Wiley Rutledge (“J. Rutledge”) filed a dissenting opinion. He rejected the Supreme Court’s conclusion that the mandate embodied in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, although binding on the States, does not carry with it the one sanction, exclusion of evidence. Failure to observe this means that the protection of the Fourth Amendment might as well be stricken from the Constitution. The Amendment without the sanction is a dead letter.
Justice Frank Murphy (“J. Murphy”) also filed a dissenting opinion. He observed, we are limited to three devices for the enforcement of the Fourth Amendment

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