Supreme Court Upholds Prohibition on Illegal Searches and Seizures of Digital Effects

Today the Supreme Court unanimously recognized and upheld the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment as proscribing warrantless searches and seizures by law enforcement of information obtainable from suspects’ cellphones, following their arrest.


Writing for the court in Riley v. California (2013), Chief Justice John Roberts states


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,” Boyd, supra, at 630. 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.


I must admit, it is quite refreshing to see the court get one right for a change – and unanimously at that!


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