Et tu, Moonbeam?


Calif. Governor Veto Allows Warrantless Cellphone Searches

California Gov. Jerry Brown is vetoing legislation requiring police to obtain a court warrant to search the mobile phones of suspects at the time of any arrest.

The Sunday veto means that when police arrest anybody in the Golden State, they may search that person’s mobile phone — which in the digital age likely means the contents of persons’ e-mail, call records, text messages, photos, banking activity, cloud-storage services, and even where the phone has traveled.

Police across the country are given wide latitude to search persons incident to an arrest based on the premise of officer safety. Now the nation’s states are beginning to grapple with the warrantless searches of mobile phones done at the time of an arrest.

Brown’s veto message abdicated responsibility for protecting the rights of Californians and ignored calls from civil liberties groups and this publication to sign the bill — saying only that the issue is too complicated for him to make a decision about. He cites a recent California Supreme Court decision upholding the warrantless searches of people incident to an arrest. In his brief message, he also doesn’t say whether it’s a good idea or not.

Instead, he says the state Supreme Court’s decision is good enough, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court let stand last week.

“The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizure protections,” the governor wrote.

Because of that January ruling from the state’s high court, the California Legislature passed legislation to undo it — meaning Brown is taking the side of the Supreme Court’s seven justices instead of the state Legislature. The Assembly approved the bill 70-0 and the state Senate, 32-4.


It is the job of the courts to interpret the law and to decide if it is constitutional.

It is the legislature’s job to MAKE the law.

California law does not allow for a veto override so our only hope is a ballot proposition.

This is a sad day for civil liberties. If I had known that Brown would do this I would not have voted for him.


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29 Responses to Et tu, Moonbeam?

  1. catarina says:

    recall Moonbeam!

  2. DandyTiger says:

    The world is upside down indeed. Fucking ass.

  3. yttik says:

    Due process is just so uncool these days.The bill of rights is such a quaint idea. This is 21rst century, man.

  4. DeniseVB says:

    Just heard Christie will be endorsing Romney in NH at 3pm eastern today. Ugh. So I’ll be joining Jazz Shaw…

  5. bemused_leftist says:

    Why did the CA SP reject the bill? Can the legislature try again?

  6. insanelysane says:

    It seems more to me that the Gov. deferred to the courts interpretation rather than to put his own feelings for the law.

    As Att. General, he did it the same way when the courts ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional and he refused to enforce that law once the court ruled.

    He went with the court ruling and isn’t that what is supposed to happen?

    • Dario says:

      ❓ Are you sure about that? Was he the governor when Prop 8 was ruled unconstitutional? Jerry just became governor in January 2011.

    • myiq2xu says:

      The California Supreme Court made a ruling (that searching cell phones incident to arrest didn’t require a warrant) that the California Legislature didn’t like so they passed a bill that would make cops get a warrant.

      Brown vetoed the bill.

      • DandyTiger says:

        I’m sure he won’t mind when he and his family and friends have their cell phones searched.

        Funnily the usual interpretation of what caesar said, something akin to et tu brute was not a question about not you too sort of thing, but instead a statement of about you’ll get yours too. Which he did soon after.

  7. WMCB says:

    When the fuck did all these authoritarians crawl out of the woodwork in this country – on both right and left?

    Have they been breeding in the baseboards for 10 years or something? Between Homeland Security, TSA, drone strikes, the cheerily marching communists, and the “let’s regulate lemonade stands and personal milk cows and veggie gardens” brigade, I feel like we’re overrun with fucking busybody statists under every banner and ideology possible. WTF???

    How about let’s have some clear rule of law, some separation of corp and state, some agreed-to communal safety nets paid for with a sane tax structure, and otherwise LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.

  8. WMCB says:

    LOL! But did you really think people didn’t guess?

  9. Three Wickets says:

    CNBC is sponsoring a “speaker’s corner” down at OWS. Now that’s what you call hedging.

  10. Three Wickets says:

    Tea Party, Meet Occupy Wall Street. OWS, Tea Party. This is an oversimplification, but interesting that Cato is putting it out there.

  11. Three Wickets says:

    Jonathan Chait says McCain would have been better than Obama for stimulus. Twisting himself into a pretzel for Romney.

    But what if we had a Republican president? Perhaps a President McCain might have designed a less sweeping and less effective stimulus than President Obama did. But Republicans would have gone along — after all, they did under Bush, and this time the justification was far stronger. It’s also likely that Democrats would have gone along, because they have shown themselves to be happy to support stimulus under Republican presidents. It also seems likely that, as the crisis deepened, President McCain would have fought for more stimulus measures, and these measures would not have been dead on arrival because there would not have been a right-wing backlash against the first one.

    This argument also suggests that the best way to get more stimulus into the economy would be … to elect Mitt Romney. True, many Republicans have actually convinced themselves to believe the anti-Keynesian doggerel they’re spouting, and would try to carry out their agenda of immediate deficit reductions. But far more likely, the bulk of the Party would see the need to rescue the economy under a fellow Republican’s presidency, and sheer political expediency would trump all.

    • yttik says:

      Can OWS be turned into a democratic party movement? It already is being turned into just that. They just went marching in Seattle in support of Obama’s jobs bill. I swear, not one person has actually read the darn bill, but they support it.

  12. DeniseVB says:

    Speaking of Moonbeams, Zombie has a snarky photo-journal contrasting the SanFran Occupiers to the military (fleet week air show nearby – incredible Blue Angels’ in action photos).

    http://pajamasmedia.com/zombie/2011/10/09/us-military-1-occupy-movement-0/

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