Tag: Fourth Amendment

Richard Epstein examines Carpenter v. United States, a Supreme Court case testing the limits of the government’s ability to engage in digital surveillance, and explains the ideal balance between liberty and security.

Should Police Get a Warrant Before They Search a Cell Phone?


shutterstock_188124092My latest contribution over at PJ Media concerns two cases now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Both cases, Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, involve warrantless searches by police on cell phones seized from people who had been arrested. Current case law allows officers to examine the property of people they have arrested, which sometimes leads to the discovery of incriminating evidence. Such was the fate of Mssrs. Riley and Wurie.  The former had his conviction upheld through appeal while the latter’s was overturned, setting the stage for the Supreme Court to resolve the conflict.

But how should the police deal with the cell phone found on an arrestee? Should  cell phones, owing to the vast amount of personal information often stored on them, be accorded more protection than a wallet, a notebook, or anything else a person might carry? If you think it should be, what legal precedent would you apply? And if there is no established precedent, should it be left to judges to create one, or should it be left to the legislative process?

Read the column here, then come back and weigh in with your comments.

The Libertarian Podcast: Cell Phones, Privacy, and the Fourth Amendment


On this week’s installment of The Libertarian podcast for the Hoover Institution, Richard leads us through a conversation about the two cases heard by the Supreme Court yesterday on whether police can search a cell phone without a warrant in the course of an arrest. Just how far should the Fourth Amendment’s protections extend? What’s the right balance between law enforcement’s interest in providing security and the individual right to privacy? Professor Epstein is characteristically insightful in answering these and other questions.

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