For at least the past 40 years, police and prosecutors have had free reign in conducting illegal searches and seizures nominally barred by the Fourth Amendment. The breadth of exceptions to the warrant requirement, the lax interpretation of probable cause, and especially the “good faith” doctrine announced in U.S. v. Leon have led to severe violations of privacy rights, trauma to those wrongly searched or seized, and a court system overburdened by police misconduct cases. Most scholars analyzing the issue agree that the rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment—to be free from unreasonable search and seizure—have been severely eroded or even eviscerated by the Supreme Court. Some suggest that in order to revitalize the Fourth Amendment, the United States should make it easier to secure civil damages after Fourth Amendment rights have been violated. Others have argued that the United States must guarantee stronger ex ante protections to uphold fundamental privacy rights before they are violated.

This Note argues that, while warrant requirements do need to be more stringent to safeguard Fourth Amendment rights, warrant requirements cannot on their own sufficiently protect such a sacred right. This Note proposes the adoption of adversarial warrant proceedings, designed to ensure police and prosecutors meet their probable cause burden and to ensure that any lies or sloppy investigative work are rooted out from a warrant application before a warrant is granted. False searches and arrests can be deeply traumatizing and have excruciating and long-term impacts. For the Fourth Amendment to have any meaningful affect, the People must have an advocate—a Warrants Counsel— fighting for their right to be free from unreasonable searches before that right is violated.

The Roberts Court’s destruction of the Fourth Amendment leaves little reason to expect protection from unreasonable search and seizure through litigation. Instead, Congress must create the Warrants Counsel program legislatively. Congress should look to the major success of the Federal Defenders program as a blueprint for zealous advocacy and protection of rights. A Warrants Counsel, like a public defender, would be a government paid attorney, present to argue against probable cause before a magistrate whenever police or prosecutors seek a warrant. Like the Sixth Amendment before the public defender system, the Fourth Amendment desperately needs some structure to give its language meaning; the Warrants Counsel system would counterbalance over-powered police and prosecutors in favor of the People.