Lesson Plan: Landmark Supreme Court Case: Mapp v Ohio

The History of the 4th Amendment

Professors Carolyn Long and Renee Hutchins talked about the history of the 4th amendment, why it was included in the Bill of Rights, and its role in the Supreme Court case Mapp v. Ohio.


The Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution. Its rulings on cases determine the meaning of laws and acts of Congress and the president. Knowing the key decisions of the Supreme Court and the precedents they set is vital in understanding the meaning of laws, how our country has changed over time, and the direction the country is currently headed. In this lesson students will examine the case of Mapp v. Ohio.


  • STEP 1.

    As a class, view the following videos and answer the questions below to lay the foundation for students to understand this case:

    VIDEO CLIP: The History of the 4th Amendment (4:52)

    VIDEO CLIP: The Background of the Case I (2:46)

    VIDEO CLIP: The Background of the Case II (3:57)

    • Describe the rights protected in the 4th Amendment.

    • Explain why the 4th Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights.

    • What needs to happen for a search to be considered legal?

    • What is the exclusionary rule? How does it impact Mapp v. Ohio?

    • Describe the story and events involving Dollree Mapp that led to her initial arrest.

    • What was included in the different police reports regarding the arrest of Dollree Mapp?

    • Explain the controversy over the search warrant in the police report according to Professor Long.

    • Describe how Dollree Mapp was eventually indicted on obscenity charges.
  • STEP 2.

    Students can either work independently or in groups to view the following video clips. They should take notes using the handout below:

    Handout: Supreme Court Case: Mapp v. Ohio (Google Doc)

  • VIDEO CLIP: Path to the Supreme Court (1:39)

    • Describe how Dollree Mapp's case went from her initial trial all the way to the Supreme Court.
  • VIDEO CLIP: Oral Arguments and Key Question (2:44)

    • Describe Attorney A.L. Kearns' argument for Dollree Mapp before the Supreme Court.

    • Describe Attorney Gertrude Mahon's argument for the state of Ohio before the Supreme Court.

    • What was the key question before the Supreme Court in Mapp v. Ohio?
  • VIDEO CLIP: The Decision (6:30)

    • Explain the decision in this case and how it transitioned from being a First Amendment case to a Fourth Amendment case.

    • Explain Justice Tom Clark's remarks in his decision.
  • VIDEO CLIP: The Exclusionary Rule (2:11)

    • Explain the misconception associated with the Exclusionary Rule.

    • According to Renee Hutchins, what is at the core of the Court's ruling in Mapp v. Ohio?
  • VIDEO CLIP: Mapp v. Ohio: Legacy (3:06)

    • Describe the impact this case had on policing in the country.
  • STEP 3.

    As a class, discuss the significance of this case, the precedent it set, and its legacy.

  • STEP 4.

    Choose an activity from C-SPAN Classroom's Deliberations site to engage in a structured student-centered analysis of the case.

Additional Resource


  • Affidavit
  • Appeal
  • Bench Trial
  • Exclusionary Rule
  • Grand Jury
  • Indictment
  • Jurisdiction
  • Paraphernalia
  • Petition
  • Probable Cause
  • Search Warrant
  • Suppression Of Evidence
  • Technicality
  • Unreasonable Search And Seizure
  • Warrant
  • Writ Of Assistance
  • Writ Of Certiorari


Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesCriminal Law & JusticeJudicial BranchSupreme Court Cases


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