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Justices Appear Divided On Cellphone Warrants

Publication Date: 
April 29, 2014
The New York Times
Adam Liptak

The New York Times reports on Professor Jeffrey Fisher's arguments before the Supreme Court in Riley v. California, a landmark case regarding cell phone privacy during police searches. 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed torn as it considered a pair of cases about whether the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.

Some justices seemed inclined to apply precedents strictly limiting the privacy rights of people under arrest. Those decisions say warrantless searches in connection with arrests are justified by the need to find weapons and to prevent the destruction of evidence.


Jeffrey L. Fisher, one of Mr. Riley’s lawyers, warned the justices to think hard about a decision he said could fundamentally change “the nature of privacy that Americans fought for at the founding of the Republic and that we’ve enjoyed ever since.”


Mr. Fisher responded that data are different. “Even the notion of flipping through photos in a smartphone implicates vast amounts of information,” he said, “not just the photos themselves, but the GPS locational data that’s linked in with it, all kinds of other information that is intrinsically intertwined in smartphones.”