The Supreme Court: Unplugging Bugging

Last June the Supreme Court seemed to impose so many restrictions on electronic eavesdropping that it was impossible to bug constitutionally. Last week the court ruled that eavesdropping was constitutional after all—within certain narrowly defined limits. In a refreshingly clean and straightforward opinion, Justice Potter Stewart knocked down a few outdated concepts and set out the court's new guidelines for permissible bugging.

To begin with, said Stewart, it makes no difference whether the bugging is in a private home or a public phone booth. The Fourth Amendment's ban against unreasonable search and seizure, he said, "protects people, not places." Stewart...

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