Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program Name

National Security Studies

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Cynthia Nolan


The purpose of this thesis is to explore Supreme Court influences, more specifically the effect of US foreign conflict on electronic surveillance cases. Electronic surveillance is a primary contingent of the Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and a hotly debated issue in the 21st century. However, the contentious use of electronic surveillance dates back to the Supreme Court case of Olmstead v. United States (1928). There have been various other electronic surveillance cases brought before the Supreme Court but the five selected in this case study are a mixture of peace and wartime cases that illustrate existential influences to include foreign conflict, political, and legislation. The remaining four selected cases were Katz v. United States (1967), US v. US District Court of Eastern Michigan (1972), Kyllo v. United States (2001), and Jones v. United States (2012). Research of the aforementioned cases led to the following research question: to what extent does US foreign conflict influence Supreme Court rulings on the use of electronic surveillance? After delving into each case three variables were identified as influential: foreign conflict or lack thereof, significant political influence, and legislation that governed the use of electronic surveillance. Collectively, the variables and judicial Segal-Cover scores contributed to a complete analysis of the five selected Supreme Court cases and a conclusive answer. US foreign conflict does not influence Supreme Court decisions regarding electronic surveillance cases.



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