In the constitution of the United States of America, the Fourth Amendment gives the people protection against unreasonable seizures and searches by government authorities. In this paper, the focus will be on the Charles Katz and Antoine Jones cases versus the United States at the Supreme Court on the invasion of their rights to privacy. The two different situations, the Supreme Court ruled that the confidentiality of the Katz and Jones privacies unduly intruded.

Katz versus United States Summary

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First, in the case of Katz versus the United States, the Supreme Court overturned the decision by the Court of Appeal for the ninth circuit of affirming the conviction of the petitioner by the Federal District Court. Katz, in this case, was the petitioner and he was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and charged with eight counts indictment of making illegal gambling bets through phone calls on a public booth from Los Angeles to Boston and Miami as well. It happened after the FBI agents got his conversations recorded by electronic recording devices which they had attached at the telephone booth where he used to make calls. The Court of Appeal had argued that “no physical entrance into the area occupied by Katz” and therefore no form of violation on the Fourth Amendment. However, Katz challenging his conviction argued that the recorded conversations could not be presented to act as evidence against him.

According to “Katz v. the United States – Case Summary and Case Brief”(2018) the Supreme Court disagreed with the Court of Appeal stating that there was the violation of rights on the Fourth Amendments rights of Katz were violated. Determined of the case was on December 18, 1967, at the Supreme Court and the court argued that the petitioner expected reasonable privacy at the booth. Moreover, Katz insisted that there was a violation of his privacy rights when the FBI agents attached the eavesdropping devices on the booth despite the government maintaining that there was no violation of privacy since no agent invaded the booth. Notably, the court argued that Katz was having private conversations since he tried to avoid “uninvited ear” and that the FBI had no search warrant.

United States versus Jones Summary

Besides, the United States versus Jones case the Supreme Court in January 2012 ruled that it is a constitutional right for Americans to be protected by law against surveillance by Global-Positioning-System (GPS). In this case, the FBI agents had fixed a GPS device on Jones vehicle which was a private property where they tracked the car movement for a month without a search warrant. Consequently, the government indicted Jones and other fellows of drug trafficking and later he was convicted of by the District Court. However, the conviction was reversed by the District of Columbia Circuit arguing that there was a violation of the Fourth Amendment given that the evidence obtained by the GPS had no warrant. Moreover, when the government appealed the decision at the Supreme Court, the Court stated that according to Fourth Amendment tracking through GPS is “search” which is undoubtedly a physical intrusion to obtain information by the government.

Sotomayor Persuasive Argument 

Furthermore, in the unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court in Jones case Justice Sotomayor’s argument was more persuasive than that of Justice Scalia. According to Center (2018), Justice Sotomayor highlighted a fundamental issue that threatens protections in the Fourth Amendments on the doctrine of the third party. Notably, Sotomayor stated that in the modern age people could reveal a lot of information to a third party in their daily routine. Regarding this, the approach that “an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties” is inappropriate in the digital era. 

In conclusion, the two cases were instrumental in the determination of similar future cases in the United States. The Court gave rulings highlighting freedom and right to privacy that the American people are entitled. Furthermore, the Court came out clear on the physical intrusion on the Fourth Amendment.


Center, E. (2018). EPIC – United States v. Jones. Retrieved from

Katz v. United States – Case Summary and Case Brief. (2018). Retrieved from

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