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Under the Fourth Amendment, an officer may not properly issue a warrant to search a private dwelling unless he can find probable cause therefor from facts or circumstances presented to him under oath or affirmation. Mere affirmance of belief or suspicion is not enough.
Nathanson unsuccessfully challenged the admission of evidence of certain liquors seized under color of a search warrant, and was convicted under the National Prohibition Act. Nathanson took issue with the warrant that was issued, claiming that it did not satisfy probable cause standards. The warrant stated that it was issued based on the oath of an officer who had "cause to suspect" that the evidence of illegal liquor was at Nathanson’s premises.
Was mere affirmance of belief or suspicion sufficient to issue a warrant to search a private dwelling?
The Court reversed the conviction. The warrant dealt with the search of a private dwelling said to have been authorized by the Tariff Act. It went upon a mere affirmation of suspicion and belief without any statement of adequate supporting facts. Nothing in the Tariff Act or the Fourteen Amendment indicated that a warrant to search a private dwelling could rest upon mere affirmance of suspicion or belief without disclosure of supporting facts or circumstances.