Despite extensive scholarly attention the Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, "there has been scant empirical research about how modern Justices have voted in Fourth Amendment cases." To this end, a recent paper by Brent Newton (US Sent. Comm'n), The Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment Scorecard, provides a helpful descriptive contribution. It does so by analyzing the "173 cases from 1982 through 2015 in which the Supreme Court granted certiorari and gave plenary consideration to Fourth Amendment issues.” An excerpted abstract, below, summarizes some of the paper's main findings.
“The key findings include: (1) the overwhelming majority of Fourth Amendment litigants (FALs) before the Supreme Court were criminal defendants rather than civil rights plaintiffs… ; (2) Fourth Amendment claims succeeded in slightly less than one in four plenary-review cases, and the Court reversed the judgment of the lower courts in the vast majority of Fourth Amendment cases in which certiorari was granted; (3) FALs were much more likely to succeed in cases concerning substantive issues than remedial issues; (4) civil rights plaintiffs were slightly more likely to succeed than criminal defendants; (5) individual Justices generally voted in Fourth Amendment cases in a manner that reflected their overall ideological dispositions, yet Justices Blackmun, Scalia, and Breyer bucked this trend, resulting in more ideologically mixed voting blocs in Fourth Amendment cases than in several other divisive areas of the Court’s docket, such as abortion rights or voting rights….”