See v. Seattle
In See v. Seattle (1967), the U.S. Supreme Court held limited the use of administrative subpoenas as follows:
|“||It is now settled that, when an administrative agency subpoenas corporate books or records, the Fourth Amendment requires that the subpoena be sufficiently limited in scope, relevant in purpose, and specific in directive so that compliance will not be unreasonably burdensome. The agency has the right to conduct all reasonable inspections of such documents which are contemplated by statute, but it must delimit the confines of a search by designating the needed documents in a formal subpoena. In addition, while the demand to inspect may be issued by the agency, in the form of an administrative subpoena, it may not be made and enforced by the inspector in the field, and the subpoenaed party may obtain judicial review of the reasonableness of the demand prior to suffering penalties for refusing to comply.||”|
See v. Seattle, 387 U.S. 541, 544-45 (1967). The Court held, over a strong dissent by three Justices (Clark, Harlan and Stewart), that:
|“||the basic component of a reasonable search under the Fourth Amendment -- that it not be enforced without a suitable warrant procedure -- is applicable in this context, as in others, to business as well as to residential premises. Therefore, appellant may not be prosecuted for exercising his constitutional right to insist that the fire inspector obtain a warrant authorizing entry upon appellant's locked warehouse.||”|
Id. at 546.