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1961 Supreme Court Decision Likely to Decide Sanctuary City Issue

When three Cleveland police officers demanded entry into Dollree Mapp's home in 1957, she demanded to see a search warrant. They didn't have one. They were looking for a bombing suspect. When they returned a few hours later, they claimed they now had a search warrant but didn't show it to her. They entered her home anyway and didn't find the suspect. Instead they found some "lewd" literature, possession of which was illegal under Ohio law.

She was tried, convicted, and sentenced for possession. Her conviction was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court but reversed by the Supreme Court in 1961: Mapp v. Ohio. The Supremes held that the 14th Amendment's due process clause applied to the states, making the Fourth Amendment's guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures effective against the states. Up until then, the Fourth Amendment applied only to the federal government.

It was a landmark decision, and its aftershocks reverberate today. When Florida's bill banning "sanctuary cities" was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday, Thomas Kennedy, the political director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, called it "harsh" and "horrible," and said he was considering filing suit to keep the law from going into effect next month.

DeSantis called it a victory and a campaign promise fulfilled:

Earlier this year I made a promise that we would ban sanctuary cities in Florida, and today we are delivering on that promise.

I am proud to sign the bill … to uphold the law and ensure that our communities are safe….

Then the governor compared sanctuary cities to "gun-free zones":

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