Justices consider no-warrant cellphone searches

MARK SHERMAN
People walk on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Saturday April 26, 2014. The Supreme Court is considering whether police may search cellphones found on people they arrest without first getting a warrant. The court’s latest foray into the issue of privacy in the digital age involves two cases being argued Tuesday that arose from searches of phones carried by a gang member and a drug dealer. Police looked through their cellphones after taking the suspects into custody and found evidence that led to their convictions and lengthy prison terms. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems wary of allowing police unbridled freedom to search cellphones found on people they arrest.

The court heard arguments in two cases Tuesday involving a drug dealer and a gang member whose convictions turned in part on evidence found on their cellphones.

The justices suggested they might favor limiting warrantless cellphone searches to looking for evidence of the crime on which an arrest is based. Both defendants could lose in such an outcome.

But it would allow the court to avoid subjecting people arrested for minor crimes from having the vast contents of their cellphones open to police inspection.