Do Cops Need a Warrant to Search Your Cellphone?

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
May 2 2014 11:47 AM

The Go Ahead, Search My OkCupid Profile Gabfest

Listen to Slate’s show about Donald Sterling’s racist rant, a botched execution in Oklahoma, and the Supreme Court case regarding warrantless cellphone searches.

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On this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, David Plotz, and Mike Pesca discuss the racist remarks that got L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling booted from the NBA, an Oklahoma execution gone horrifically wrong, and two Supreme Court cases about cellphones and privacy.

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:

  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life Tuesday after a tape of Sterling’s racist comments went public.
  • If we’re going to be outraged about Sterling, we should be outraged that we didn’t condemn his racism earlier, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes in Time. One example of that racism: the vile things Sterling said about his former mistress during a 2003 deposition.
  • Silver’s decision robbed players and fans of the chance to mete out justice on their own, Pesca writes.
  • Pesca also thinks the NBA should issue a report like the one the NFL produced on bullying in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room.
  • All of Slate’s coverage of Donald Sterling is here.
  • Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett died writhing in agony Tuesday after prison officials botched a lethal injection meant to execute him painlessly.
  • Prison officials were using an untested drug cocktail on Lockett, partly because European drugmakers that oppose capital punishment have stopped selling to corrections departments.
  • The American public’s support for the death penalty has declined in recent years. In 2013, only nine states executed people.
  • Bringing back the guillotine might be more humane than continuing to use current execution methods.
  • The Supreme Court tried to reconcile the Fourth Amendment with modern technology this week during oral arguments in two cases involving cellphone privacy.
  • Emily compared David’s vision of a future without privacy to Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon.

Emily chatters about Justice Antonin Scalia’s egregious blunder in a dissent earlier this week—he mischaracterized a 2001 Supreme Court opinion that he himself wrote.

John chatters about a standout paragraph from a Wall Street Journal profile of Oracle founder Larry Ellison, who wants to buy the Clippers: “The Oracle chief has had basketball courts on at least two of his yachts, said Tom Ehman, who handles America's Cup matters for Mr. Ellison. He said Mr. Ellison liked to relax by shooting hoops on these courts, and has had someone in a powerboat following the yacht to retrieve balls that go overboard.”

David chatters about a Rolling Stone interview in which Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin critiqued Tolkien’s lack of political realism. He wants to hear from listeners: Would you have killed the baby orcs in their little orc cradles?

Topic ideas for next week? You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. The email address for the Political Gabfest is (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Rebecca Cohen.

Emily Bazelon was a Slate senior editor from 2005 to 2014. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.


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