1961 Supreme Court Decision Likely to Decide Sanctuary City Issue

Jun. 17, 2019
Bob Adelmann

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":

Sanctuary cities basically created law-free zones where people can come to our state illegally and our country illegally, commit criminal offenses, and then just walk right out the door and continue to do it.

Upon learning about DeSantis' action, President Trump tweeted: "Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just signed a bill banning Sanctuary Cities … & forcing all law enforcement agencies to cooperate with Federal Immigration authorities."

Trump added: "More and more states want to do this, but their governors and leaders don't have the courage to do so. The politics will soon mandate, however, because people … are demanding that Sanctuary Cities be GONE."

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That may be wishful thinking on the president's part. Florida joins nine other states in requiring LEOs to cooperate with ICE when presented with "detainer requests" for someone they are holding on other charges. But 10 other states have declared themselves to be "sanctuary states," perfectly illustrating the division over the issue for the country.

At the moment, no Florida municipality has declared itself to be a sanctuary city, but the Alachua County Sheriff's Office (in central Florida) has declined ICE requests in the past unless they had a court order or a federal criminal warrant. As state senator Joe Gruters, a sponsor of the bill, explained: "This is not about illegal aliens … this is about criminal illegal aliens who have broken additional laws while they're here."

As a result, the impact in Florida will scarcely be noticeable, according to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri: "It doesn't change anything because we've been doing that [cooperating with ICE] for years."

The debate in the Florida legislature was noisy and lengthy as both sides made their positions known. Those opposed claimed that if the bill were passed the state's economy would be damaged, that its reputation would be tarnished, that visitor traffic would be diminished, that relations between local police and immigrant communities (one-fifth of Florida's residents were born elsewhere) would be negatively impacted, and local law enforcement efforts would become more difficult. The House passed the bill 68-45 and the Senate passed it 22-18.

Florida joins Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas in passing the law requiring law enforcement to cooperate with ICE officials.

And Florida officials are holding their breaths, waiting to learn whether Kennedy is going to file suit or not.



Background on Mapp v. Ohio

Further background on Mapp v. Ohio

The New York Times: Dollree Mapp, Who Defied Police Search in Landmark Case, Is Dead

Breitbart: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Sweeping Bill Banning Sanctuary Cities

Miami Herald: Gov. DeSantis signs 'sanctuary cities' ban into law. There aren't any in Florida.

NBC News: Advocates say Florida governor's 'sanctuary bill' politically motivated

The Hill: Trump: Americans 'are demanding that Sanctuary Cities be GONE'

The Daily Mail: Trump praises Florida governor for signing bill banning sanctuary cities and requiring state authorities to cooperate with ICE

The Wall Street Journal: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Sanctuary-City Ban

Background on Sanctuary Cities

Trump's tweet on Florida's new sanctuary cities law

Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

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