Analysts say the court’s ruling will have a very broad impact on US criminal justice, because as many as 12 million people are arrested every year and many of them carry mobile phones
The US Supreme Court is hearing arguments over whether police may search a suspect’s mobile phone without a warrant during an arrest.
The high court is weighing appeals by two people convicted based on evidence found on their phones.
The defendants argue their constitutional protections against unreasonable searches were violated.
But the government argues phones are no more shielded from searches than other articles police find during an arrest.
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that during an arrest, police do not need a warrant to empty a suspect’s pockets and examine whatever they find in order to ensure officers’ safety and prevent the destruction of evidence…
Under the fourth amendment to the US constitution, police and other government officials generally need to obtain a warrant from a judge before they can conduct a search. A warrant requires evidence that a crime has been committed by the suspect.
Lawyers for David Riley and Brima Wurie argue that allowing police to search mobile phones during the initial arrest would radically broaden police powers, because many arrests occur for minor violations and never end in conviction.
They say a phone’s contents cannot be used as a weapon and that police could seize the phone without searching it to avoid the destruction of evidence.
The defendants are also backed by privacy advocates who say mobile phones, especially smartphones, contain enormous quantities of sensitive personal information that have no bearing on the arrest.
The worst possible argument – IMHO – is the concept advanced by the state of California and the department of Justice. They say a person who is arrested has a lower expectation of privacy. Therefore, it’s OK to actively diminish any rights to privacy we’re supposed to expect under our Constitution.
Sophistry 101, folks.