Court Ruling on Police Searches

Re "High Court Bars Police Search Tied to Anonymous Tip," March 29: The Supreme Court decision is indeed baffling, although I do respect the justices' hyper-concern over unchecked police authority in light of recent events.

The justices have an obligation to consider the aggregate effects of all their decisions. For example, if the police can't use anonymous tips, consider the description of what a person is wearing, or if they look away when a gun is sticking out of someone's left pocket--in addition to recent pressure to ignore appearance, such as race or color--what are the police to do?

The justices also have the duty to protect innocent citizens and must consider the consequences of all their decisions in the aggregate and not in isolation from their other Supreme Court decisions. Otherwise the police--and the people--become defenseless.

MICHAEL A. GLUECK

Newport Beach

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Your article says that the Supreme Court, in ruling on a case concerning a police search, "stressed that officers need specific, reliable evidence of some wrongdoing before they can stop a person on the street" and quotes Prof. James J. Tomkovicz as saying that "this decision . . . says the 4th Amendment still means something." Yet in every U.S. airport, barely trained rent-a-cops search every person who not only wants to board an airplane, but even those who only want to see someone off at the gate, and the court has ruled that this is OK. I have been patted down because the rivets on my jeans and the lace hooks on my boots trigger the metal detectors. Could someone please reconcile these two legal theories for me and explain how the 4th Amendment still means something?

ALAN WEISS

Carpinteria

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