The California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a Ventura County Sheriff's deputy didn't need a warrant to conduct a "search" of the text messages on a cell phone belonging to a man he'd arrested. You see, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 5-2 that police can search items found on arrested defendants without a warrant, and according to the majority opinion, looking at text messages on a cell phone is essentially a search.
The two hippies in the minority argued that the precedent being applied—originally decided in the 1970s over a police officer who searched "inside a crumpled cigarette pack and found heroin capsules"—probably shouldn't be applied to newfangled technology. Which seems right to us! After all, there were no cell phones in the 1970s. But we're not on the California Supreme Court, so, for now, in California, try not to conduct your drug deals by text message. Or, perhaps, use an elaborate code.
On the bright side, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled the opposite way—i.e., that police are not allowed to read your texts and/or sexts unless they have a warrant—and the conflicting decisions mean the case could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court! Where Clarence Thomas will look for the words "text messages" in the constitution and, when he doesn't find them, rule that cell phones are illegal.