Free as the least free

American jurisprudence is consistent on the subject of punishing innocent people. The Supreme Court first
commented on the issue in 1895, when the majority opinion in Coffin v. United States 140 cited Athenian law,
Trajan, Fortescue, Hale, and Blackstone all at once, to underscore the long history of the presumption of
innocence, but refused to commit to an actual number. The Court did not revisit the issue until Henry v. United
States (1959), which established that “it is better, so the Fourth Amendment teaches, that the guilty sometimes
go free than that citizens be subject to easy arrest.”

free as the least free


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