May 202017
 May 20, 2017  Posted by  Court, Surveillance, U.S.

Roger L. Stavis writes:

The “Warrant Clause” of the Fourth Amendment provides that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In a recent opinion requiring search warrants for “smart phones,” U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts expounded on the history behind the Fourth Amendment:

Our cases have recognized that the Fourth Amendment was the founding generation’s response to the reviled ‘general warrants’ and ‘writs of assistance’ of the colonial era, which allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity. Opposition to such searches was in fact one of the driving forces behind the Revolution itself.

Riley v. California , 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2494 (2014).

Unfortunately, “general” warrants, authorizing “rummaging” searches without specification, are alive and well in the 21st Century. More often than not, such “general warrants” are relied upon to authorize “rummaging” searches of computers.

Read more on New York Law Journal (free sub. required).


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