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In a pretty universally awesome decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts issued Wednesday—and yes, I'm as surprised to be typing those words as you are to read them—the Supreme Court has effectively prevented police officers from seizing and searching your smartphones upon arresting you, unless they have obtained a search warrant from a magistrate. As the Chief Justice concludes, in what is functionally a unanimous decision:
We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. Cell phones have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals. Privacy comes at a cost....

Our cases have recognized that the Fourth Amendment was the founding generation’s response to the reviled “general warrants” and “writs of assistance” of the colonial era, which allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity. Opposition to such searches was in fact one of the driving forces behind the Revolution itself. In 1761, the patriot James Otis delivered a speech in Boston denouncing the use of writs of assistance. A young John Adams was there, and he would later write that “[e]very man of a crowded audience appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance.” According to Adams, Otis’s speech was “the first scene of the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the child Independence was born.”

Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans “the privacies of life.” The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant.

The decision is the latest in a series of decisions over the last few terms seeking to clarify what the right to privacy means in this new technological area. What the Court did today, and how they did it, below the fold.

David Riley enjoyed documenting his life, as the police learned upon pulling him over for driving (yes, while black) with expired registration tags. They learned his license had been suspended, searched his car and found concealed and loaded weapons under the hood.  Then they took his smartphone.  On Riley's phone, they found a lot of contacts listed as CK, a label that the officer believed "stood for 'Crip Killers,' a slang term for members of the Bloods gang." And back at HQ, an other detective searched further on the phone and found pictures of gang-related activity, including "photographs of Riley standing in front of a car they suspected had been involved in a shooting a few weeks earlier."

Riley was ultimately charged, in connection with that earlier shooting, with firing at an occupied vehicle, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, and attempted murder. Prior to trial, his attorney moved to suppress all evidence from the phone. He lost. Riley was convicted, and sentenced to 15-to-life.

In another case, Brima Wurie was seen dealing drugs from a car. Upon arrest, his flip phone was taken, and based on the calls coming from "my house" the police found said house, as well as the woman pictured on his phone's wallpaper. They obtained a search warrant based on the cell phone evidence, and during that search found "215 grams of crack cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, a firearm and ammunition, and cash."

The appeals from those cases bring us to today.  

Five years ago, the Court scaled back the types of searches the police could do simultaneous with an arrest, holding that once the accused was safely away from his vehicle, the police needed to obtain a warrant to search beyond what was in plain view, except when it was reasonable to believe the vehicle contained evidence of the offense for which the arrest took place. And basically that's what California argued here: that cell phones might well have a lot of relevant evidence on them, and that absent an immediate search defendants might have means to have their phones wiped remotely.  As the chief justice explains for the history books, not that anyone reading the decision doesn't get this:

These cases require us to decide how the search incident to arrest doctrine applies to modern cell phones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy. A smart phone of the sort taken from Riley was unheard of ten years ago; a significant majority of American adults now own such phones.
The Court first dismisses any safety concerns:
Digital data stored on a cell phone cannot itself be used as a weapon to harm an arresting officer or to effectuate the arrestee’s escape. Law enforcement officers remain free to examine the physical aspects of a phone to ensure that it will not be used as a weapon—say, to determine whether there is a razor blade hidden between the phone and its case. Once an officer has secured a phone and eliminated any potential physical threats, however, data on the phone can endanger no one.
Nor are they concerned about remote wiping:
In any event, as to remote wiping, law enforcement is not without specific means to address the threat. Remote wiping can be fully prevented by disconnecting a phone from the network. There are at least two simple ways to do this: First, law enforcement officers can turn the phone off or remove its battery. Second, if they are concerned about encryption or other potential problems, they can leave a phone powered on and place it in an enclosure that isolates the phone from radio waves.. Such devices are commonly called “Faraday bags,” after the English scientist Michael Faraday. They are essentially sandwich bags made of aluminum foil: cheap, lightweight, and easy to use. They may not be a complete answer to the problem, but at least for now they provide a reasonable response. In fact, a number of law enforcement agencies around the country already encourage the use of Faraday bags.
And unlike the case last term where the Court approved DNA swabs from anyone arrested for a violence crime, smartphone searches would reveal way more than what people expose publicly:
Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be kept on an arrestee’s person. The term “cell phone” is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone. They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers....

Most people cannot lug around every piece of mail they have received for the past several months, every picture they have taken, or every book or article they have read—nor would they have any reason to attempt to do so.... The sum of an individual’s private life can be reconstructed through a thousand photographs labeled with dates, locations, and descriptions; the same cannot be said of a photograph or two of loved ones tucked into a wallet. Third, the data on a phone can date back to the purchase of the phone, or even earlier. A person might carry in his pocket a slip of paper reminding him to call Mr. Jones; he would not carry a record of all his communications with Mr. Jones for the past several months, as would routinely be kept on a phone....

In 1926, Learned Hand observed that it is “a totally different thing to search a man’s pockets and use against him what they contain, from ransacking his house for everything which may incriminate him.” If his pockets contain a cell phone, however, that is no longer true. Indeed, a cell phone search would typically expose to the government far more than the most exhaustive search of a house: A phone not only contains in digital form many sensitive records previously found in the home; it also contains a broad array of private information never found in a home in any form—unless the phone is.

And the Court didn't even go with the modified rule proposed by the Obama DOJ, that at least the police should be able to search your call log:
The Government relies on Smith v. Maryland, 442 U. S. 735 (1979) , which held that no warrant was required to use a pen register at telephone company premises to identify numbers dialed by a particular caller. The Court in that case, however, concluded that the use of a pen register was not a “search” at all under the Fourth Amendment. There is no dispute here that the officers engaged in a search of Wurie’s cell phone. Moreover, call logs typically contain more than just phone numbers; they include any identifying information that an individual might add, such as the label “my house” in Wurie’s case.
But police aren't powerless. Number one, they can obtain a search warrant. Or ...
Other case-specific exceptions may still justify a warrantless search of a particular phone. “One well-recognized exception applies when ‘ “the exigencies of the situation” make the needs of law enforcement so compelling that [a] warrantless search is objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.’ ” Such exigencies could include the need to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence in individual cases, to pursue a fleeing suspect, and to assist persons who are seriously injured or are threatened with imminent injury. In Chadwick, for example, the Court held that the exception for searches incident to arrest did not justify a search of the trunk at issue, but noted that “if officers have reason to believe that luggage contains some immediately dangerous instrumentality, such as explosives, it would be foolhardy to transport it to the station house without opening the luggage.”

In light of the availability of the exigent circumstances exception, there is no reason to believe that law enforcement officers will not be able to address some of the more extreme hypotheticals that have been suggested: a suspect texting an accomplice who, it is feared, is preparing to detonate a bomb, or a child abductor who may have information about the child’s location on his cell phone. The defendants here recognize—indeed, they stress—that such fact-specific threats may justify a warrantless search of cell phone data. The critical point is that, unlike the search incident to arrest exception, the exigent circumstances exception requires a court to examine whether an emergency justified a warrantless search in each particular case.

Today's decision was, as I noted above, practically unanimous. Justice Alito concurred separately to say "I pretty much agree, but I'd invite state legislatures to try to craft a better rule given their fact-finding abilities," noting that the Court's handing down a bright-line rule, while making things clear for the police, still leads to some weird discrepancies:
The Court strikes this balance in favor of privacy interests with respect to all cell phones and all information found in them, and this approach leads to anomalies. For example, the Court’s broad holding favors information in digital form over information in hard-copy form. Suppose that two suspects are arrested. Suspect number one has in his pocket a monthly bill for his land-line phone, and the bill lists an incriminating call to a long-distance number. He also has in his a wallet a few snapshots, and one of these is incriminating. Suspect number two has in his pocket a cell phone, the call log of which shows a call to the same incriminating number. In addition, a number of photos are stored in the memory of the cell phone, and one of these is incriminating. Under established law, the police may seize and examine the phone bill and the snapshots in the wallet without obtaining a warrant, but under the Court’s holding today, the information stored in the cell phone is out.

While the Court’s approach leads to anomalies, I do not see a workable alternative. Law enforcement officers need clear rules regarding searches incident to arrest, and it would take many cases and many years for the courts to develop more nuanced rules. And during that time, the nature of the electronic devices that ordinary Americans carry on their persons would continue to change.

More decisions on Thursday, and they are almost guaranteed to make you less happy than this one.

Originally posted to Adam B on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 03:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for another... (8+ / 0-)

    good analysis. I think there will also be many conservative and middle-or-the roaders that will be quite supportive of this decision.

  •  Very interesting ruling (16+ / 0-)

    I wonder how far the Court would be willing to go in drawing parallels to this decision in ruling on NSA domestic surveillance, or the FBI's use of cell phone towers to monitor citizens' location and the contents of their cell phones.  There look to be a lot of lessons to be drawn for those sorts of cases from this ruling.

    Thank you for the excellent analysis.

    I stand with triv33. Shame on her attackers.

    by Dallasdoc on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 04:15:08 PM PDT

    •  The sad thing is how surprising this ruling is (9+ / 0-)

      It's so mind-numbingly clear from the text of the 4th Amendment. The opinion even quotes it in full. And yet in other circumstances (ahem NSA) it's pretend and deflect.

      The ruling says it's just about cell phones and arrests, but we'll see. There are some pretty damn broad (and good!) principles laid out here.

      Supreme Court on mobile phone searches: "Get a warrant." There, was that so hard?
      By Simplify, June 25th, 2014
      emptywheel has some well-informed (as always) speculation:
      Riley Meets the Dragnet: Does “Inspection” amount to “Rummaging”?
      By emptywheel, June 25th, 2014
      (Heh, just "Dallasdoc'd" you: picked a comment close to the top and hung a meaty reply on it!)

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 05:06:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The rationale is that usage of such devices is (9+ / 0-)

      so ubiquitous so as to demand a closer scrutiny in terms of their implications--particularly as to personal privacy.  But is the focus on the shiny device, or our rights under the 4th Amendment?

      Finally, there is an element of pervasiveness that characterizes cell phones but not physical records. Prior to the digital age, people did not typically carry a cache of sensitive personal information with them as they went about their day. Now it is the person who is not carrying a cellphone, with all that it contains, who is the exception.According to one poll, nearly three-quarters of smartphone users report being within five feet of their phones most of the time, with 12% admitting that they even use their phones in the shower. See Harris Interactive, 2013 Mobile Consumer Habits Study (June 2013). A decade ago police officers searching an arrestee might have occasionally stumbled across a highly personal item such as a diary. See, e.g., United States v. Frankenberry, 387 F. 2d 337 (CA2 1967) (per curiam). But those discoveries were likely to be few and far between. Today, by contrast, it is no exaggeration to say that many of the more than 90% of American adults who own a cell phone keep on their person a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives—from the mundane to the intimate. See Ontario v. Quon, 560 U. S. 746, 760 (2010). Allowing the police to scrutinize such records on a routine basis is quite different from allowing them to search a personal item or two in the occasional case.
      If the focus, as the Court states, is on the innate privacy of the data retained by the device, well, isn't that exactly what metadata is?  It's not as if the records stored in the smartphone weren't made through a commercial carrier. It's not as if the records of communication stored on a smartphone didn't at some point travel over public networks.  Why should they be "protected" and yet their substance lose protection because of "no reasonable expectation of privacy" simply because they were transmitted via an Internet provider?  

      So it would be difficult to understand why, if police cannot search the cellphone of an arrestee, someone who hasn't been arrested for anything should nonetheless be subjected to government snooping.

      Unless, of course, because "Terror!"

      Which, I think, is what it all comes down to.

      •  I don't recall (6+ / 0-)

        The terror loophole in the Bill of Rights.  Maybe Antonin Scalia can hold one of his patented sceances to discover that the Founding Fathers agreed with him on that topic, too.

        I stand with triv33. Shame on her attackers.

        by Dallasdoc on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:35:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What is metadata? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Publius2008, Simplify

        The opinion seems to suggest that the police being able to access phone numbers in a call log aren't a problem, it's additional information such as the labels assigned to those numbers in an address book that are a cause for concern.

        •  Bingo. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Looking at the phone company's data is not a search of the person or his personal property.

          •  But what of this?: (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dartagnan, Simplify
            An Internet search and browsing history, for example, can be found on an Internet-enabled phone and could reveal an individual's private interests or concerns—perhaps a search for certain symptoms of disease, coupled with frequent visits to WebMD. Data on a cell phone can also reveal where a person has been. Historic location information is a standard feature on many smart phones and can reconstruct someone's specific movements down to the minute, not only around town but also within a particular building.See United States v. Jones, 565 U. S. _, _ (2012) (SOTOMAYOR, J., concurring) (slip op., at 3) ("GPS monitoring generates a precise, comprehensive record of a person's public movements that reflects a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations.").
            Slip op. at 19-20.

            That would seem to include metadata, no?  

            "You cannot win improv." Stephen Colbert ( at 16:24).

            by Publius2008 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:35:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  And that is illlogical. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dallasdoc, Simplify, OHdog

            If the data within the device are protected, and the nature of the data is transmittable information, the fact that the data are "transmitted" or communicated from the device by its own nature and design should not, logically, be afforded "less" protection than the data "stored." If you're going to protect one, then what "quality" makes the" fact" of transmission less sanctified?

            Does it somehow become "speech" subject to search and seizure? If so, what is it when it's not transmitted? Non-speech, not deserving of search and seizure?  If its intention is a private one to begin with, I don't see the transmission as deserving of less protection.

            •  It's not that it's illogical. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib, Dartagnan

              It's that the Fourth Amendment protects one's person, place, and stuff, and not "privacy" as we conceive of it.  Data in the hands of third parties -- the phone company, Google, etc -- is incredibly private, yet we give it away freely, and it's basically unprotected.

              •  But why is it unprotected? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Simplify, mythatsme

                Surely the 4th Amendment applies to those companies, too. They are legal entities entitled to the protection of law as well. Yet the standard for getting them to cough up basic data is a simple subpoena.

                Is there hope that we could at least upgrade that to a warrant given this decision - and no NSA backdoors?

                Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

                by Phoenix Rising on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 09:38:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It requires a lot of walking back of doctrine (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  VClib, Simplify, kurt, Phoenix Rising

                  Because you have no expectation of privacy (under the law) in data you've voluntarily provided to a third party. Two years ago, Justice Sotomayor called for this doctrine to be reexamined:

                  More fundamentally, it may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties. This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks. People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers; the URLs that they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers; and the books, groceries, and medications they purchase to online retailers. Perhaps, as Justice Alito notes, some people may find the “tradeoff” of privacy for convenience “worthwhile,” or come to accept this “diminution of privacy” as “inevitable,” and perhaps not. I for one doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the Government of a list of every Web site they had visited in the last week, or month, or year. But whatever the societal expectations, they can attain constitutionally protected status only if our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence ceases to treat secrecy as a prerequisite for privacy. I would not assume that all information voluntarily disclosed to some member of the public for a limited purpose is, for that reason alone, disentitled to Fourth Amendment protection. See Smith, 442 U. S., at 749 (Marshall, J., dissenting) (“Privacy is not a discrete commodity, possessed absolutely or not at all. Those who disclose certain facts to a bank or phone company for a limited business purpose need not assume that this information will be released to other persons for other purposes”); see also Katz, 389 U. S., at 351–352 (“[W]hat [a person] seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected”).
          •  Apparently you missed United States v. Davis (0+ / 0-)

            Go to my recent diary Landmark Ruling by 11th Circuit Court on Cell Phone Tracking & Metadata and start reading, including hitting the links, to read another AWESOME RULING.

            Feel free to comment in that diary, United States v. Davis could be heading for SCOTUS and is definitely worth following.

            Best part is the 11th Circuit cited Unites States v. Jones brilliantly - take that, SCOTUS, LOL.

            Dude, you need to read more diaries on Daily Kos, lots of us following these rulings closely.

            The Constitution matters. And is not dead.

            No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

            by koNko on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 05:32:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  My guess (0+ / 0-)

      Is that the Court would uphold Smith v Maryland (which it mentions in this decision).   If ruling against those things would require overturning Smith v Maryland, then I would bet against that happening.

  •  This ruling was good, disappointed in Aereo case (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    At least we got this one, which is immensely more important than about tiny TV antennae.

    "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

    by mconvente on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 04:35:41 PM PDT

    •  Because of the substantive result? (4+ / 0-)

      Because Scalia's dissent points to a potential fix:

      Making matters worse, the Court provides no criteria for determining when its cable-TV-lookalike rule applies. Must a defendant offer access to live television to qualify? If similarity to cable-television service is the measure, then the answer must be yes. But consider the implications of that answer: Aereo would be free to do exactly what it is doing right now so long as it built mandatory time shifting into its “watch” function. Aereo would not be providing live television if it made subscribers wait to tune in until after a show’s live broadcast ended. A subscriber could watch the 7 p.m. airing of a 1-hour program any time after 8 p.m. Assuming the Court does not intend to adopt such a do-nothing rule (though it very well may), there must be some other means of identifying who is and is not subject to its guilt-by-resemblance regime.
      •  Yes, the result, but also the potential impact (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc

        The issue I have with this ruling is that if an individual rigged up their own distant antenna and streamed the resulting signal over the Internet to their home, that is legal (at least from what I have read).

        But if a company like Aereo does that in aggregate, all of a sudden it's illegal?  Even when the signals they transmit are free Over The Air (OTA) signals in the first place?  That one could pick up with an HD antenna in their own home anyway?

        The only difference fundamentally between the HD antenna and Aereo is that Aereo antennae are in a central location, so they should pick up local broadcasts from wherever the warehouse is.  If you rent an Aereo antenna based in NYC, but you live in LA, then local NYC news would be streamed to you.  Big deal.

        This TechCrunch article has a good recap of the case.  Check out of the comments.  I don't buy the "copy museum art" argument.  I buy this argument:

        yes, but that museum has a price of admission. Those channels don't.
        The channels are free OTA transmissions.
        Aereo is charging for: price and maintenance of the antenna, space to keep the antenna (as minimal as that is) and cloud storage to DVR.
        The channels are free. Aereo is charging to facilitate a setup that anyone could potentially set up at home but is too complicated to the average user.

        This is all about the big media corp. wanting to stuff the free channels into plans that include all premium channels so they can squeeze the most out consumers.
        I don't see you art museum analogy applying here.

        "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

        by mconvente on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:05:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was also an opportunity (0+ / 0-)

          to get broadcasters to give up their bandwith to true public uses--if they had allowed it, likely programming would not be broadcast.

          "You cannot win improv." Stephen Colbert ( at 16:24).

          by Publius2008 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:38:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The cable companies fought the location battle (0+ / 0-)

          a long time ago and lost then, too. The law on rebroadcast is pretty plain: if you do it, you're in violation of Copyright law. So the cable companies pay for the right to rebroadcast those OTA signals.

          Aereo was theoretically different in that subscribers were essentially renting an antenna and using a service that allowed them to view the content from that antenna remotely. In principle both of these two concepts are allowed under Copyright law.

          But the Court apparently saw the service as being more like cable and less like an end-user application - or, possibly, they saw "renting an antenna" as the foot in the door for the cable companies to stop paying the broadcasters and felt this was a bad thing. In the end, it was a judgement about just who the consumer of the broadcast really was, and I can't bring myself 100% to say they were wrong.

          IMHO the ruling in Aereo is most unsettling in the questions that it leaves open...

          Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

          by Phoenix Rising on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 10:00:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Adam for another great summary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, mungley, Dartagnan, ER Doc

    "let's talk about that" uid 92953

    by VClib on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 04:42:52 PM PDT

  •  Awesome. (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks as always, Adam B.

    "And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over." - John Masefield

    by mungley on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:04:43 PM PDT

  •  They got this one right (0+ / 0-)

    Thoughts on the Aereo decision Adam?

    Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

    by Pi Li on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:20:01 PM PDT

  •  One thing I haven't read about this is what (0+ / 0-)

       actual effect the ruling has on the plaintiffs.

  •  So, where does this leave the Stingray, I wonder? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Stingray being the devilish device that can suck cell phone information right out of the air.

    Thomas Jefferson, 1816: "I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the Laws of our country."

    by PDX Dem on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:26:30 PM PDT

    •  In the same place as cell carrier location data? (0+ / 0-)

      The stingray can apparently do precise location work, so it could fall between pen-registers and thermo vision equipment in the (rapidly evolving) privacy standards world. Or maybe if it's used for longer periods it's more like a GPS tracker?

      My opinion on all of the above is the same as today's suggestion from the Court: get a warrant. (Or, in the case of the rape suspect tracked by the cell phone he stole from his victim, get the permission of the cell phone owner...)

      Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

      by Phoenix Rising on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 10:24:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  well that is something (0+ / 0-)

    but hardly good enough

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:26:49 PM PDT

  •  Whoopee. As if search warrants and court orders (0+ / 0-)

    mean anything these days. That stuff only applies to people who drive Bentleys, Rolls Royces or Maseratis.

    21st Century America's motto: "It may look good on paper but it don't mean doodley squat."

  •  I think this is sad. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, RandomNonviolence

    Not the ruling--it was spot on.

    What's sad is that it's so celebrated. When I was a kid something like this would have been unheard of--the police obtaining phone records without even as much as a warrant. The fact that it is says something terrible about how far down the police-state road we've really gone.

    Not that I object to the police arresting bad guys--murderers, rapists, people who hurt other people. But we all know if this were left to stand, more like people would go to jail calling their pot dealer about "shoes".

    By the way, if you get jury duty and the case you get is about someone who just had pot, remember your right as a juror of nullification.

  •  Now we need to get rid of Hailstorm (0+ / 0-)

    so we can stop them from listening in on everyone's cell phone.

    I will not vote for Hillary.

    by dkmich on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:41:45 PM PDT

  •  So that means that they can't search my cell (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    phone when they pull me over and find that I have that nifty droid app to find the constellations by just pointing my phone at the sky, or say that my flashlight app is meant for some kind of third-rate burglary and book me for terrorism?


    Now, I couldn't resist snarking a bit, but I think this is a good decision, and thanks for your thorough and thoughtful analysis, Mr. Chairman.


    by commonmass on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:43:44 PM PDT

  •  A little noticed trend (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Once criminal law and constitutional protections in criminal prosecutions divided liberals from conservatives.  Just a decade ago we heard Republicans screaming about 'criminal coddling judges.'  As SCOTUS's left-right gap has widened, it has disappeared on Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendment protections for those accused of crimes.  There actually is somewhat of a consensus.

    "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

    by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:47:27 PM PDT

  •  Remote Wiping (0+ / 0-)

    Has its limitations.
    If the phone data is stored in The Cloud, than any accomplice could wipe out all the information.
    The "Faraday Bag" would make no difference.  Once the warrant was enforced for the Phone, there would be nothing left to see at there at all.

    Dammit Jim, I'm a Doctor, not a Bricklayer!

    by dbcoe on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:19:15 PM PDT

  •  Another argument (0+ / 0-)

    For requiring computer science and information science courses for potential lawyers. In a whole host of recent decisions.

  •  Color me as not surprised. (0+ / 0-)

    The people  the Robert's court protected are the cell phone carriers employed by corporations.

    An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second..Jefferson's Letter to Peter Carr

    by JugOPunch on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:35:40 PM PDT

  •  SCOTUS can't use the same "logic".... (0+ / 0-)

    ... when it comes to NSA & their hired corporations spying on ALL of us without a warrant???

    Our cases have recognized that the Fourth Amendment was the founding generation’s response to the reviled “general warrants” and “writs of assistance” of the colonial era, which allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity. Opposition to such searches was in fact one of the driving forces behind the Revolution itself. In 1761, the patriot James Otis delivered a speech in Boston denouncing the use of writs of assistance. A young John Adams was there, and he would later write that “[e]very man of a crowded audience appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance.” According to Adams, Otis’s speech was “the first scene of the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the child Independence was born.”
    When my laptop with Windows 7 gave me the black screen of doom or death, I bought a new laptop with Windows 8.  It's essentially a bare-bones operating system with minimal features (even the Photo Gallery lacks those screamingly few editing features as the one in W7).

    Those little fancy-schmancy buttons that ads make it seem so cool?  They are a nuisance.  Most buttons connect to web sites where you may purchase one thing or another.  Two buttons are usable: Internet Explorer and Desktop.  [What?  It couldn't just open on Desktop like a normal computer?]  I deleted most of the buttons on sight - which didn't get rid of them; they migrated to a below-sight screen accessed via the down arrow.  Using Internet Explorer, I promptly went to Mozilla and downloaded a decent web browser that has the handy side menu that IE eliminated years ago (I loathe that center scroll menu in IE for saved bookmarks since there's little control with it, and while it is an option on Firefox, it also has the side menu choice that I like), and the email program.  Both are free.

    Of the few features in W8 I could use, they all wanted me to give them permission to spy on me with their bloody cookies [circumventing my 4th Amendment right to privacy by gaining my permission] "to enhance my online experience" as they pointed me in the direction of features [web sites that want me to buy stuff] they thought I might be interested in.  Riiiiiiiiiight.  They want to do the thinking for me..., not let me do my own thinking.  Delete, Delete, Delete.  Even W8's Internet Explorer wanted my permission to let them spy on me!!!  I went through all the tabs and UNclicked the boxes with the default choices that allowed them to spy on me "with my permission."  No, they do NOT have my permission!

    IF that prohibition of searching cell phones and/or laptops and/or computers without a search warrant had included prohibiting NSA and it's corporate employees to spy on us, that law might have some teeth.  It's not our state police, local police, or sheriff's deputies we have to worry about....  It's our own government, NSA, and the corporations they hire to spy on us that we must worry about!!!  They already have the US government's permission to spy on us unhindered, AND they are exempt from prosecution for doing so, thanks to FISA fiasco '08!!!  [Gee, thanks Obama, for voting for that miserable piece of tripe bill after it had been voted down in two houses of Congress earlier that year.  Gee, thanks Nancy Pelosi for reviving that idiotic bill and getting it voted on favorably in the House in record time.  Faugh!]

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 08:36:40 PM PDT

  •  Does this ruling (0+ / 0-)

    affect the confiscation and examination of cell phones at border crossings?

    I'm thinking of crossings by car, plane, boat.  

    How does this interface with the ruling by a lower Federal Judge, that the "no fly" list has to be more transparent?  

    In the case of people leaving the US via ship; names & passports are collected abt 2 hours before a sailing, so they can be run through alert lists such as the No Fly list. This is quite a process, because some cruise ships are now up to 5,000 pax & 1,000+ crew.

    If you are delayed due to an alert to the TSA or Gov agents, would the agents try to get a search warrant for your phone, computer, etc. or could they go ahead and download info from your cell phone and/or computer?
    And what about cell phones that are now mini-computers and small computers, which can function as phones?  And both which can function as cameras?   Lines of demarcation  & definitions are getting blurry and rapidly changing.  

  •  court seems to be big on warrants (0+ / 0-)

    the last couple terms, the DNA case notwithstanding.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 07:00:57 AM PDT

  •  Can't resist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    taking a moment to brag.

    I'm a genealogist and I was quite thrilled a couple years back to find James Otis and his sister Mercy Otis Warren in my family tree. It's complicated, but they were descended from John and Patience Faunce and so am I.

    I'm tickled that James was cited in this ruling, even if I'm not a fan of the Roberts court.

    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

    by Pariah Dog on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 07:54:12 AM PDT

  •  Copes routinely open and inspect cell phones (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    especially in the aftermath of a vehicle accident.  If there is a cell phone on the ground at the scene, they open and check the timestamps of the last outgoing and ingoing activity.  All too often loss of vehichular control coincides exactly in time with last phone activity.

    What becomes of all the cases where texting as cause of accident is already entered in the evidence?

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 10:26:02 AM PDT

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