William La Jeunesse & Laura Prabucki
January 13, 2014
A federal judge who endorsed “suspicion-less” searches of laptops, cameras and cell phones at the border has set up a possible Supreme Court showdown challenging what critics call “Constitution-free zones” and the Obama administration’s dragnet approach to national security.
A decision by Judge Edward Korman upholding the federal government’s right to search travelers’ electronic devices at or near the border conflicts with a similar ruling in California. That ruling requires a “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity before agents can confiscate and examine personal photos, laptops and files. Korman’s ruling does not.
“I think Americans are justifiably becoming increasingly surprised and even outraged by the extent to which the national security state seems to be monitoring and collecting information about us all,” said ACLU Attorney Catherine Crump. “We think that having a purely suspicion-less policy is wrong, because it leaves border agents with no standards at all to follow. That opens the door that people will be [targeted] for inappropriate reasons.”