Obama Admin. to Supreme Court: Allow Warrantless Smartphone Searches
August 22, 2013 7:12 PM
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Administration is upset about Circuit Court ruling that prohibits warrantless smartphone searches
President Barack Obama's (D) Assistant Attorney General (AG), Mythili Raman, and the
U.S. Department of Justice
(DoJ) have filed
to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to consider overriding a July decision by the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
warrantless cell phone searches
were a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The 1st Circuit Court sets precedent for Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island.
The Obama administration has
oft made the argument
that the Fourth Amendment -- which protects a citizen's "houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" --
is "inconvenient" for law enforcement
and should be pruned back to a much more limited form. In its argument in favor of
warrantless smartphone searches
, the President's staff argues that notebooks, calendars, and pagers have all been found in past SCOTUS or Circuit Court rulings to be searchable without warrant (not eligible for Fourth Amendment protections).
on academic law blog "The Volokh Conspiracy",
George Washington University
law school professor
, a prominent social libertarian points out a major flaw in the Obama administration's argument.
The Obama administration is pushing for warrantless smartphone searches.
[Image Source: Cole Hayes]
He points out that the administration appears to have cherry-picked a case involving an older device (the case in question involved an classic "dumb" cell phone seized in a 2007 crack cocaine bust of a Mass. man). He says that asking the court to consider a case with outdated information may be an attempt to lead them to an inaccurate conclusion. He writes:
Given that the argument for treating cell phones differently from physical items hinges on the storage capacity and services available through smartphones, I think it would be very helpful for the Court to take a case involving a smartphone instead of a more primitive model. In recent years,
smartphones quickly have become ubiquitous
: About 35% of Americans owned one by May 2011, 46% owned one by February 2012, and 56% owned one by May 2013. (In case you’re wondering, 91% of Americans have cellphones, so about 61% of cell phones owned as of May 2013 are smart phones.) Reviewing a case with an earlier model phone would lead to a decision with facts that are atypical now and are getting more outdated every passing month.
He argues that it would be better for the SCOTUS to examine a separate case that law professor
the SCOTUS to consider --
Riley v. California
. That case involved a 2009 search of a customer's Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd (
, an early smartphone. The case involved officers searching through a suspected gang member's smartphone for videos, pictures, and address book -- all without getting a warrant for the search, a key step of Fourth Amendment due process that prevents abuse.
The California Court of Appeal, Fourth District
declined to hear the
case, leaving SCOTUS as a potential route for a further appeal.
DOJ via The Washington Post [PDF]
The Volokh Conspiracy
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Why is it...
8/23/2013 3:37:26 PM
That each and every presidential administration that gets into power in the U.S., regardless of party affiliation, goes on a crusade to stomp all over their citizen's constitutional rights.
I don't get it. Is is not the U.S. government leader's primary job to uphold and defend the country's constitution from those that seek to destroy or undermine it? Then why are these people taking great pains to circumvent, ignore and blatantly attempt to destroy the foundations of their country?
Yes, having this pesky constitution sitting in the way makes it damn inconvenient to give themselves unlimited power over the people that voted them into office. That is why it is there! It is counter productive and stupid.
RE: Why is it...
8/26/2013 5:21:15 PM
Because once they get into power, they want more and the Constitution limits that power. From that point on they try to fight against it. Give me one person who truly believes the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and wants to do all they can to uphold it and get us back to following it as closely as our founding fathers did and I will not only vote for that person, I will do all I can to promote them as well.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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