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Video: The Riley cellphone case lawyers at the National Constitution Center

June 25, 2014 by NCC Staff


Ed DuMont, Jeff Rosen and Jeff Fisher
Ed DuMont, Jeff Rosen and Jeff Fisher

Two attorneys who argued the Riley cellphone case before the Supreme Court joined the National Constitution Center’s Jeffrey Rosen on June 16 to discuss the basic arguments in the case.


On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued a sweeping decision that all Americans have Fourth Amendment rights to protect their cellphones from unwarranted search by the police.


Edward C. DuMont, California Solicitor General, and Jeffrey L. Fisher, Stanford Law School professor, discussed two cases before the high court this term: Riley v. California, involving a Samsung smartphone, and United States v. Wurie, focused on an older-generation flip phone with limited computing ability. DuMont and Fisher were opposing counsel in Riley.


Both cases examined the power of the police, acting without a search warrant in certain circumstances, to look at information stored on a cellphone taken from a suspect at the time of an arrest.


In their conversation with Rosen on June 16, 2014, Fisher and DuMont outlined their arguments and responded to one another’s claims in a rigorous discussion of privacy and the Constitution.


“Remember, the Fourth Amendment says that the police and government agents cannot engage in any unreasonable searches, and expresses a preference for obtaining warrants before engaging in any search,” Fisher said. “Mr. Riley argued that the search of his cellphone, therefore, was unreasonable because it unduly invaded his privacy without obtaining a warrant.”


For his part, the California solicitor general took a different view.


“The government thinks it was legitimate to search the phone here,” DuMont said. “The reasonable assumption has been for many years that if one is arrested, objects that one has on one’s person are going to be found, taken, examined by the police.”


“In our view, that’s the underlying principle,” he added. “So the question is, should something change about that principle because of the advent of cellphone technology?”


You can watch the full program below or by clicking here.

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