Katz v. United States

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Katz v. United States
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided December 18, 1967
Appealed from 9th Circuit
Overturned Olmstead v. United States


Government agents attached a listening device to a public telephone booth in the 1960s. An illegal gambling suspect's conversations were recorded without his knowledge.

Katz was the gambler in Los Angeles, California. He called bookies in Boston & Miami.

FBI agents knew that Katz was using payphones to place illegal bets on basketball games in violation of federal laws against inter-state gambling.

Procedural History

Katz was charged with illegal inter-state gambling. Katz was convicted in federal district court in southern California.


Subject: Redefining Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

What is the expectation of privacy in the electronic age? The authors of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution didn't factor in the telephone which was non-existent in the late 1700s.


Olmstead v. United States (1928) is overturned. There can be a "search or seizure" without a physical intrusion.


The 4th Amendment "protects people, not places" according to the Supreme Court.