Date Thesis Awarded

5-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Government

Advisor

Christine Nemacheck

Committee Member

Jackson N. Sasser, Jr.

Committee Member

Adam Gershowitz

Abstract

While the United States Supreme Court held in such cases as United States v. Miller (1976), Smith v. Maryland (1979), and California v. Greenwood (1988) that the Fourth Amendment does not protect material shared with third parties, state appellate courts are free to offer greater levels of protection to such material under their own state constitutions. Analyzing a population of 218 state appellate third-party rulings between 1952 and 2014, I examine the legal and political factors that lead some state courts to avail themselves of state constitutions in recognizing citizens' privacy expectations over information shared with third parties. I find that since 1952, twenty-two states have offered higher protection to third-party records and information on at least one occasion. Multivariate analyses show that judicial ideology and the presence of state constitutional privacy guarantees both shape state judges' calculus about whether to protect third-party materials under state constitutions.