This Article proposes a new means of restraining police power: quantitative limits on the number of law enforcement intrusions—searches and seizures—that may occur over a given period of time. Like monetary constraints, search and seizure budgets would aim to curb abusive policing and improve democratic oversight. But unlike their monetary counterparts, budgets would be indexed directly to the specific police activities that most enable escalation and abuse. What is more, budgets are a tool that finds support, conceptually, in the American framing experience. The Fourth Amendment has long been understood to require procedural limits, such as probable cause, on specific police intrusions. But such requirements are only part of the story; limits on overall police capacity, we argue, are also hardwired into the Fourth Amendment via its founding era history. Search and seizure budgets would help reinvigorate that promise, offering an important tool in the ongoing effort to curb over-criminalization and the ever-expanding technologies of surveillance.



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