ASNE is headed to the Supreme Court. Not physically. Not as a party. But we recently joined an amicus brief that was filed with the court on April 3 in the cases of Riley v. California and the United States v. Wurie.

The two separate cases joined together to resolve one issue: the extent to which law enforcement officers can search an individual’s mobile phone without a warrant under the “incident to arrest” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that search and seizure of property occur only with a warrant.

Our brief argues that these searches violate not only the Fourth Amendment right to be free of warrantless search and seizure, but also the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and the First Amendment right to free expression. Although neither Riley nor Wurie is a reporter, the fact that their phones store information, images and videos is relevant to media concerns. In fact, allowing warrantless searches of mobile phones would have a particularly adverse impact on the press.

ASNE and the other 12 organizations on the brief are asking for a clear, nationwide rule that tells police that they can’t search the individual’s device in such a situation without a warrant or one of the existing exceptions to the warrant requirement. The court will hear argument in the case Tuesday, April 29, and will probably issue an opinion in June.

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