Search and seizure

Tian chary, Staff writer

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On Tuesday, April 29 The Supreme Court discussed two cases about whether police need warrants to search cellphones. 

In oral argument, the Justices discussed privacy rights of people under arrest and the omnipresent of technology reshaping communication.

The debate is over when and whether police must obtain a warrant to search data on the cell phone of a person under arrest.

Senior Ryan Pau said, “People carry their lives in their phones. It’s crazy how much a person can store into a phone.”

 In Tuesday’s first case, Riley v. California, a state appeals court in California allowed a search of David L. Riley’s smartphone after he was pulled over for having an expired auto registration. The police found loaded guns in the car and, on inspecting Mr. Riley’s smartphone, entries they associated with a street gang.

 In the second case, United States v. Wurie, the federal appeals court in Boston threw out evidence gathered after the police there inspected the call log of a drug dealer’s rudimentary flip phone.

 “Our rule has been that if you carry it on your person, you ought to know it is subject to seizure and examination,” Justice Antonin Scalia said.

Senior Marissa Marty said, “This is completely unfair, people don’t know what what they can be held against. What happened to privacy and the rights of people? We should have a saying to whether a cop can search our phones.”

The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Furthermore, search without warrants on cellphone data would go against the Fourth Amendment.  However, justices are trying to create exceptions to cases. The police groups says police should at least be able to search when they have reasons to believe the phone contains evidence of past, present or future crimes.

Privacy advocates and defense attorneys clash heads with the justices when it comes to making the decision.

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