Ariane de Vogue
January 17, 2014

Behind closed doors today, the Supreme Court will consider taking up two cases concerning whether police, after seizing a cellphone during a lawful arrest, can search the phone’s data without a warrant.

Lower courts have divided on the issue. Those courts upholding the warrantless searches have relied at times on a 1973 Supreme Court precedent that privacy advocates say doesn’t contemplate modern-day technology.

In that case — United States v. Robinson — a man was arrested for driving with a revoked license. While police officers conducted a pat-down, they found a cigarette package filled with heroin. The court upheld the warrantless search, explaining that police can conduct a full search of a person incident to a lawful arrest.

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