Probable Cause Is Not Really a Huge Barrier For Police

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

You know what really gets me about the recent Supreme Court case over police access to cell phone location records? It’s not as if anyone was trying to take away their ability to get them. All anyone wanted was for police to get a warrant showing probable cause. That’s it.

Why is that treated as such a big deal? Police show probable cause all the time even in fairly flimsy cases, and judges routinely grant them search warrants. I don’t understand why anyone thinks this minimal protection is too much to ask in return for access to complete and total movement data on an American citizen. The alternative, “reasonable grounds” as determined by the police themselves, is essentially nothing. In the opinion of a detective, after all, there are always reasonable grounds.

By the way, the Wall Street Journal adds this:

Several states, including California, Massachusetts and Utah, as well as a number of local governments, have adopted measures requiring police to obtain warrants for such searches with little apparent impact on crime rates.

That certainly would have been my guess.

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate