Obama Administration Asks Supreme Court To Reverse First Circuit To Allow Warrantless Searches Of Cellphones
By Jonathan Turley
Aug 20 2013
Civil libertarians have long ago lost faith in Barack Obama’s and his continuing expression of support for privacy and individual rights. Just in case anyone is still not convinced, consider the petition this month to the Supreme Court by the Obama Administration. Just last week, Obama waxed poetic about his commitment to privacy. Yesterday however, his Administration took another major swipe at privacy and asked the Supreme Court to reverse the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which held that the police could not conduct warrantless searches of your cellphone when you are arrested. The decision in United States v. Wurie is below.
Since there is a split in the circuits, there is a good chance for a granting of review by the Court. Civil libertarians are shuddering at the prospect of this Court getting their hands on this issue. The Obama Administration is again pitching its case to the most conservative members of the Court like Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts. It is an irony missed by many. While Democrats often discuss the need for a Democratic president to make appointments on the Court, the Obama Administration routinely relies on the right wing of the Court for its efforts to strip privacy rights and civil liberties.
The case from the First Circuit involves the arrest of Brima Wurie on suspicion of buying crack. The police seized his phone and used it to determine his address. They raided the home and found drugs, cash and guns. It is precisely the type of case that the Obama Administration knows will appeal to Alito, Roberts, and Thomas and probably pull in Kennedy.
The First Circuit simply held that the police could have easily gotten a warrant in this circumstance and should have. That is not enough for the Obama Administration. They want to strip cellphones of any and all protection after an arrest. What was truly striking about the case was the clearly frivolous argument presented by the Administration: