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Kansas Law Review, Inc.




In his 1974 Holmes Lectures, Anthony Amsterdam likened the Supreme Court in search and seizure cases to a committee "attempting to draft a horse by placing very short lines on a very large drawing board at irregular intervals during which the membership of the committee constantly changes." On that perception of the matter he cautioned against precipitous criticism when the completed draft resembles a camel. That advice, in my judgment, is reliable only in part. On the one hand, only the most arrogant of armchair critics would not concede that the Court's work is as difficult as it is important. Faced with enormous complexity in search and seizure cases, inscrutable history, and imponderable competing interests, the Court is, to use another metaphor, like Dr. Johnson's dog, whose trick was to walk on its hind legs. It is not that it performs well. The wonder is that it performs at all.



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