The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In numerous cases, the Court has referred to the necessity that warrants be issued by a
judicial officer or a
The point of the Fourth Amendment, which often is not grasped by zealous officers, is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime. Any assumption that evidence sufficient to support a magistrate’s disinterested determination to issue a search warrant will justify the officers in making a search without a warrant would reduce the Amendment to a nullity and leave the people’s homes secure only in the discretion of police officers.2 These cases do not mean that only a judge or an official who is a lawyer may issue warrants, but they do stand for two tests of the validity of the power of the issuing party to so act.
He must be neutral and detached, and he must be capable of determining whether probable cause exists for the requested arrest or search.3 The first test cannot be met when the issuing party is himself engaged in law enforcement activities,4 but the Court has not required that an issuing party have that independence of tenure and guarantee of salary that characterizes federal judges.5 And, in passing on the second test, the Court has been essentially pragmatic in assessing whether the issuing party possesses the capacity to determine probable cause.6