If you're arrested, do the cops have the right to go through your cellphone without a warrant? The Obama administration says yes.
In a petition filed earlier this month asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, the government argues that the First Circuit’s ruling conflicts with the rulings of several other appeals courts, as well as with earlier Supreme Court cases. Those earlier cases have given the police broad discretion to search possessions on the person of an arrested suspect, including notebooks, calendars and pagers. The government contends that a cellphone is no different than any other object a suspect might be carrying.
But as the storage capacity of cellphones rises, that position could become harder to defend. Our smart phones increasingly contain everything about our digital lives: our e-mails, text messages, photographs, browser histories and more. It would be troubling if the police had the power to get all that information with no warrant merely by arresting a suspect.
Arrest is not conviction, and an arrested suspect is, by definition, an innocent. Since anyone may be arrested -- during, for example, a political protest -- it should be obvious that the mere fact of arrest should not abrogate our rights to privacy.
The only reasons to bypass the warrant process have to do with time-critical situations. But if the suspect is already in custody, time is (in almost all cases) not a factor. Besides, the laws governing the use of warrants take emergencies into account.
Police work is easy only in a police state. Why is the Obama administration trying to establish one?
Let's give this post a bit of edginess. How can the black community continue to support Obama blindly when this policy will make oppression of black people easier? I've asked this question before and I'll ask it again: Can you name a single black person not named Obama whom Obama has helped?