Supreme Court Favorably Cites Smith v. Maryland. Does That Mean It’s Still Good Law?

June 25th, 2014

In Judge Leon’s opinion on NSA surveillance, he effective argues that Smith v. Maryland is not really applicable to modern-day technology. Orin was not persuaded.

Today in Riley, the Court favorably cited Smith v. Maryland, without casting the slightest doubt on it–even in an opinion where it found other precedents inapplicable to the digital age.

We also reject the United States’ final suggestion that officers should always be able to search a phone’s call log, as they did in Wurie’s case. The Government relies on Smith v. Maryland, 442 U. S. 735 (1979), which held that no warrant was required to use a pen register at telephone company premises to identify numbers dialed by a particu- lar caller. The Court in that case, however, concluded that the use of a pen register was not a “search” at all under the Fourth Amendment. See id., at 745–746. There is no dispute here that the officers engaged in a search of Wurie’s cell phone. Moreover, call logs typically contain more than just phone numbers; they include any identify- ing information that an individual might add, such as the label “my house” in Wurie’s case.

This tells me that Smith is still apt.