I just saw a Verizon commercial where they talked up their new generation of smart phones, that can automatically sync up every thing on your PC desktop. That is becoming an increasingly dangerous activity because the courts continue to gut the Bill of Rights. The 4th Amendment stated:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and 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.”

A recent court decision, and the reluctance of the US Supreme Court to act, shows the stark need for the states to stand up for your rights. And why the only way this will happen at the state level is pressure from the majority of Americans who believe that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

In California, the State Supreme upheld (in People vs. Diaz)  an arrest made possible by a warrant-less search of a cell phone. Diaz was arrested and his cell phone seized. The police went through the information on his cell and found evidence about a drug deal that lead to his conviction. The suit by Diaz claimed that the police needed a warrant to search Diaz’s phone.

The Supreme Court of California ruled that the police did not need a warrant for this search and equated the information found on the cell phone to a normal search of your clothes for weapons and incidentals as part of an arrest.


The dissenting opinion stated it correctly. Diaz allows the police, “with no showing of exigency, to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee’s person. The majority thus sanctions a highly intrusive and unjustified type of search, one meeting neither the warrant requirement nor the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” The US Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.

Your smart phone has a host of information that you would not want your local policeman to review if they picked you up on a traffic stop right? If there is reason to get that information for a prosecution, why not allow for a warrant, just like you would need to review information on your home PC?

I hear some conservatives stating things like “well if you aren’t doing anything wrong, why worry?” Do you really trust the government NOW enough to casually throw off the 4th Amendment rights enshrined in the Constitution? I don’t. And our founders were wise enough not to trust this kind of power to the government either.

The California state legislature did it’s job here, quickly turning around and writing legislation requiring a warrant to get information from a smart phone. The bill passed the California Assembly 70-0 and the State Senate, 32-4.

And governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. His rationale?

“The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizure protections.” Really?!?

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mark Leno’s (D-San Francisco), reaction; “It was a curious veto message suggesting that the courts could resolve this more effectively than the state Legislature.”

Curious puts it mildly. It is an abdication of California’s legislative power. And shows the gradual erosion of the Bill of Rights, as court precedent moves the Bill of Rights farther and farther away from the original intent of the founders. While James Madison didn’t have an IPhone, I would think you would consider important “papers” to equate to emails on your smart phone.

The legislature has the duty to protect the rights of their constituents. In fact that is the primary role of government according to the Declaration of Independence.

And Jerry Brown has failed his duty here.

The states have the most important role in protecting your rights…which after all is their primary responsibility. They have the ability to fight back against an out of control court system.

Are your state elected officials going to stand up for rights? You will be electing state representatives in about a month. And as the Federal government and the court systems continue to gut your rights.

They may be the last bastion for the natural rights you have from your maker. Choose wisely this November.

Chip Tarbutton

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