Virginia vs Moore- SCOTUS Holds That Illegal Police Conduct Is Ok If Cops Find Drugs

No one saves a drug search like our Supreme Court. It seems that few Constitutional protections apply if the police find drugs. . The latest example is Virginia vs. Moore.

SCOTUS in their own words

Held: The police did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they made an arrest that was based on probable cause but prohibited by state law, or when they performed a search incident to the arrest.

Here are the facts- Moore was pulled over and found to have a suspended license. Virginia law does not allow the police to make an arrest for this offense. Virginia police arrested Moore anyway. A search incident to the arrest produced 16 ounces of crack cocaine.

Moore filed a motion to suppress the search and the crack. Moore’s Motion was denied and he was convicted. Moore appealed and claimed that the 4th Amendment protects the public from illegal police conduct. Put simply- Moore’s argument was that when police break the law and search a citizen, the search is unreasonable.

Now we have what Drug Warriors have longed for, an end run around the pesky requirement of a warrant, probable cause, and/or actually viewing an arrestable offense to search for drugs.

The War on Drugs always leads to police corruption. Now it has led to a sanction for illegal police conduct. I never thought I would see the day that judges would ok illegal police activity. In hindsight, this decision is merely the cumulation of decades of bad decisions designed to save drug searches.

There are only two ways to advance Prohibition- More Cops/Jails or Less Freedom. We have more prisoners than any other country, and less 4th Amendment protections than ever. We are still losing the Drug War.

Is it too much to ask that police follow the law? Is 16 ounces of crack worth repealing the 4th Amendment?

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6 responses to “Virginia vs Moore- SCOTUS Holds That Illegal Police Conduct Is Ok If Cops Find Drugs”

  1. Robert:
    We’d win this case in Texas under CCP 38.23 – yes?


  2. Robert Guest says:

    Hopefully, but maybe not. Lago Vista + Va vs. Moore may equal a 38.23 loophole. Hopefully not, but with out appeals courts it could happen.

  3. jimbo says:

    I think you are missing the most important point of the opinion. If there is anyone/thing to blame, it is Virginia law. As stated on pg. 11 of the opinion:
    “Virginia does not, for example, ordinarily exclude
    from criminal trials evidence obtained in violation of its

    In other words, VA does not have an exclusionary rule. Therefore, search challenges must be analyzed via federal law (and not VA law).

    VA law says driving on a suspended DL is a crime punishable by a year in jail. Police had probable cause to believe Moore committed this crime; therefore, under federal law, it was a lawful arrest.

    No exclusionary rule= no complaining that VA police didn’t follow STATE law.

  4. jimbo says:


    It was a 9-0 opinion.

    You’re saying the entire Supreme Court is willing to disembowel the 4th Amendment to further the goals of the War on Drugs???

    Or maybe this wasn’t really a tough decision.

  5. Robert Guest says:

    Good point. However, the exclusionary rule was borne out of the 4th Amendment.
    Years of SCOTUS precedent has held that illegaly obtained evidence was unreasonable. Since when is illegal police activity “reasonable?”
    SCOTUS hypocrisy is clear when you compare this decision to Raich.

    In Raich the commerce clause overrides State protections. In Va vs Moore the feds say that only states have the authority to exclude illegal evidence. Hogwash.

    The Constitution used to limit the federal government and protect individual rights. Today it’s the opposite.

    9-0 says more about the current state of freedom in America. It doesn’t sway my opinion on what a reasonable search and seizure is.

  6. W. W Woodward says:

    Mr Guest,
    “reasonable” is what the state says it is. The reasonableness of a state’s action will be determined by a branch of that state’s government.

    Our opinion (I share yours) doesn’t matter.

    Obviously the 4th amendment doesn’t mean much to the court. It’s already , to use your word, disemboweled both the 4th as well as the 8th in pursuit of the so-called war on terror.

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