SCOTT v. U.S.
425 U.S. 917 (1976)

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U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTT v. U.S. , 425 U.S. 917 (1976)

425 U.S. 917

Frank R. SCOTT et al.
v.
UNITED STATES.
No. 75-5688.

Supreme Court of the United States

April 5, 1976

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN, with whom Mr. Justice MARSHALL concurs, dissenting.

The Court today again refuses to grant certiorari to consider the proper implementation of the 'minimization' requirement of 18 U.S.C. 2518(5) (1970), one of the core provisions of Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. See, e.g., Bynum v. United States, 423 U.S. 952 (1975) (Brennan, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari). The 'minimization' provision, which requires that every order and extension thereof authorizing electronic surveillance shall 'contain a provision, that the authorization to intercept shall be . . . conducted in such a way as to minimize the interception of communications not otherwise subject to interception under this chapter,'

    'constitutes the congressionally designed bulwark against conduct of authorized electronic surveillance in a manner that violates the constitutional guidelines announced in Berger v. New York, 388 U.S. 41 (1967), and Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). Congress has explicitly informed us that

    Page 425 U.S. 917 , 918

    the 'minimization' and companion safeguards [e.g., 2518(3)(a)(b)(c)( d)] were designed to assure that 'the order will link up specific person, specific offense, and specific place. Together [the provisions of Title III] are intended to meet the test of the Constitution that electronic surveillance techniques by used only under the most precise and discriminate circumstances, which fully comply with the requirement of particularity.' S.Rep. No. 1097, 90th Cong., 2d Sess., 102 (1968), U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1968, p. 2112.'Bynum v. United States, supra, at 952.

When the Court denied certiorari in Bynum, I indicated my reasons for believing that 'we plainly fail in our judicial responsibility when we do not review these cases to give content to the congressional mandate of 'minimization," particularly since guidance for judges authorizing electronic surveillance 'is absolutely essential if the congressional mandate to confine execution of authorized surveillance within constitutional and statutory bounds is to be carried out.' Id., at 958-959, 953. That review is no less appropriate now. Indeed, it is even more urgent in light of the proliferation of opinions- exemplified by these cases from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit-sanctioning round-the-clock surveillance in which every conversation, whether innocuous or incriminating, is intercepted.

The facts of this case are relatively simple. The government sought and obtained authorization to intercept wire communications over a certain specified telephone on the ground that there was probable cause to believe that certain named individuals were using that telephone in connection with the commission of narcotics offenses, and that information concerning the offenses would be obtained through the interception of the communications over the telephone. The order authorized the intercep- [425 U.S. 917 , 919]


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