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22 Hamline Law Review 501 (1999)


This Article first examines the Carter case in detail, including the opinions of the state courts and the briefs and oral argument in the United States Supreme Court, before turning to the Court's decision. The Article highlights the importance of Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion and explains the "hidden holding" of the case, raising the question of whether lowercourts will apply the correct rule from the case. The Article argues that the Court's denial of the defendants' claim of a reasonable expectation of privacy, combined with its failure to provide guidance as to when non-overnight visitors in homes will have the ability to challenge a search of that home, increases the danger that lower courts will impose a presumption against short-term guests having an expectation of privacy in their host's home.The Article emphasizes that although a narrow interpretation of the rights of non-overnight visitors is the path favored by several Justices, it does not command a majority, and urges lower courts to take care to apply the correct rule from Carter, one that broadly interprets the rights of short term visitors and avoids drawing a line at overnight guests.

The Article then briefly examines the United States Supreme Court's "standing" jurisprudence prior to Carter, providing background for the analysis of the decision. The Article argues that the majority's ruling, that the defendants had no reasonable expectation of privacy, undervalues expectations of interpersonal privacy of citizens in a free society, unfairly diminishes legitimate expectations of privacy in a wide variety of relationships the Court labels as "business" or "commercial," and overextends the reach of the "legitimately on the premises" category of visitors to deny protection for certain relationships that deserve better. The Article asserts the Minnesota Supreme Court was better able to put aside the illegal nature of the conduct involved and avoid deciding important privacy issues based on labels. The Minnesota court's decision provided a workable rule that was consistent with United States Supreme Court precedent and recognized and protected the "everyday expectations of privacy that we all share."'