Politics Magazine

The Supremes Make A Good Decision This Time

Posted on the 27 June 2014 by Jobsanger
The Supremes Make A Good Decision This Time
Every now and then the United States Supreme Court surprises me and makes a unanimous decision to uphold our Constitution. Wednesday was one of those times, when they announced their unanimous decision in Riley vs. California.
The map above (from Forbes Magazine website) shows the difference in the states when it comes to searching an arrestees cell phone. The states in red are those where state courts have approved those warrantless searches. The ones in yellow conduct those searches because there has been no court decision that would stop them from doing so. It is only in those few states in blue where state courts have ruled those cell phone searches cannot happen unless a search warrant is requested and received from a judge.
You can now consider all of those states to be colored blue though. That's because the United States Supreme Court ruled that the police cannot search any cell phone -- even if they already have the cell phone owner in custody -- unless they have a search warrant. The court's opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, says:
"Before cell phones, a search of a person was limited by physical realities and generally constituted only a narrow intrusion on privacy. But cell phones can store millions of pages of text, thousands of pictures or hundreds of videos. This has several interrelated privacy consequences."
"It is true that this decision will have some impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. But the Court’s holding is not that the information on a cellphone is immune from search; it is that a warrant is generally required before a search."
This was a very good decision. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects all citizens from unreasonable searches (searches without a search warrant issued on probable cause). Privacy has long been established as a right in this country, and nothing is more private in today's technological society than an individual's cell phone (where all kinds of private information is stored). Citizens should have the right to expect that information will remain private, unless the police show probable cause and get a search warrant.
The government has nibbled away at our rights in this country -- and at times taken a huge bite out of them (as with the horrendous Patriot Act). It's nice to see the Supreme Court act to protect those rights.

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