Civil and Human Rights

Justices Fulfill Founders’ Vision In Protecting Smartphone Privacy

Washington, DC – On news this morning that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its rulings in the companion cases Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie – holding that the Fourth Amendment prohibits the police from searching the contents of an arrestee’s cell phone without a warrant – Constitutional Accountability Center issued the following reaction:

 

“In a unanimous opinion today written by Chief Justice Roberts,” said CAC President Doug Kendall, “the Court issued an important and sweeping ruling validating the privacy rights of all Americans. Critical to his opinion for the Court was the amount of highly sensitive information that is stored on the cell phones of millions of Americans, which makes the warrantless search of such phones in some ways even more intrusive than similar searches of colonial-era homes, which the Founders fought against in the Revolutionary War. It’s a good day for the Bill of Rights and for every American who cares about their privacy.”

 

“Echoing CAC’s brief,” said CAC Chief Counsel Elizabeth Wydra, “Chief Justice Roberts rejected the government’s position in favor of warrantless cell phone searches as akin to the ‘general warrant’ abhorred by our Nation’s Founders. Today’s ruling is a reminder that strong arguments rooted in the Constitution’s text and history can unite Justices across the ideological spectrum to protect basic rights fundamental to our Framers. The Court’s answer today to what the police must do before searching ‘papers and effects’ on a cell phone is the same as the Founders’ – get a warrant.”

 

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Resources:

 

CAC merits stage “friend of the court” brief in Riley v. California and U.S. v. Wurie: http://theusconstitution.org/sites/default/files/briefs/CAC_Riley_Wurie_Merits_Amicus_Brief.pdf

 

“The Founding Fathers Would Have Protected Your Smartphone,” Senators Rand Paul and Chris Coons, May 27, 2014: 

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/a-tech-challenge-for-fourth-amendment-application-107129.html

 

“What Scalia knows about illegal searches,” Brianne Gorod, April 29, 2014: http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/29/opinion/gorod-cell-phone-scalia-court/

 

“The Supreme Court Cases Everyone With a Cell Phone Should Be Watching,” Brianne Gorod, April 11, 2014: http://theusconstitution.org/text-history/2629/supreme-court-cases-everyone-cell-phone-should-be-watching

 

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Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.

 

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