Law Enforcement, DOJ Already Plotting How To Get Around Supreme Court's Warrant Requirement To Search Phones
from the because-of-course-they-will dept
Following this week’s landmark ruling from the Supreme Court that says law enforcement must get a warrant to search mobile phones, law enforcement folks are clearly freaking out. A bunch of folks are quoted on how “awful” this ruling is, as they pretend that getting a warrant is such an incredible burden. Jim Pasco, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, points out that due process should be ignored when gangs are around:
Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police union, imagined the police busting a drug deal with two suspects, one who gets cuffed and another who gets away.
The arresting officers “want to get into that phone and see if they can get the other guy,” he said in an interview. “Or gang situations. They communicate almost exclusively by phone. There’s more at stake here than due process. It’s public safety.”
Meanwhile, another police spokesperson overreacts by suggesting warrants are somehow difficult to get:
Besides the delay, one problem is such a warrant might not be approved, said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, which counts about 240,000 rank-and-file police officers as members.
“You have to make that jump: I bet he’s got a bunch of stuff on his phone. And that’s not good enough,” he said. “The officers are really going to have to point to something specific that ties that phone or that suspect’s use of phones to the commission of a crime.”
He makes that sound horrible, but that’s what the Constitution says. Just because there may be bad stuff in someone’s house the police don’t get to just search it. They have to point to something specific. That’s the 4th Amendment. Has Johnson never read it?
Meanwhile, at the DOJ, they’re already plotting on ways to get around this ruling by seeing how far they can push the “exigent circumstances” exception:
Ellen Canale, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the agency would work with law enforcement to ensure “full compliance” with the decision.
“We will make use of whatever technology is available to preserve evidence on cell phones while seeking a warrant, and we will assist our agents in determining when exigent circumstances or another applicable exception to the warrant requirement will permit them to search the phone immediately without a warrant,” Canale said.
Notice how the focus is on figuring out more ways to search phones, not more ways to make sure they obey the law. This doesn’t make me feel any safer. Quite the opposite.