Computers, Urinals, and the Fourth Amendment: Confessions of a Patron Saint

At least the title indicates that the article is somehow concerned with “the Fourth Amendment,” though for anyone who knows me or is at all familiar with my work, that piece of information hardly would come as a revelation. The fact of the matter is that I almost always write about the Fourth Amendment; I am in an academic rut so deep as to deserve recognition in the Guinness Book World of Records. Search and seizure has been my cheval de bataille during my entire time as a law professor and even when I was a mere law student. And over that substantial period, I have peppered or salted – depending on your taste – the law reviews with a not insubstantial number of Fourth Amendment commentaries. Replowing the same ground for so long presents special challenges, which is why in recent years I have had to resort to grotesque phantasmagoria, polysyllabical sesquipedalianism, amphigoric analecta, and even serendipitous cyberspatial sciolism in an effort to present a fresh approach.

But the other words in my title are less revealing. For example, who is this “patron saint” there referred to? It is me, as I discovered back in 1988 when, while digging through the advance sheets for Fourth Amendment minutiae, I discovered a case in which I was characterized as “the patron saint of the Fourth Amendment. ” I rather liked that appellation and looked forward to springing it on my colleagues and friends at the earliest opportunity. Unfortunately, in the intervening years I have never found just the right opportunity to work it into the conversation, which is why my sainthood has until now remained a deep, dark secret.