Howard Wesley Cotterman v. US — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Howard Wesley Cotterman v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner.

In this case, the Ninth Circuit determined that the federal government may seize, copy, and forensically analyze the hard drive of a laptop of a U.S. citizen returning to the country, without a warrant, based merely on “reasonable suspicion.” Our amicus brief argues that the circuit court reached this decision by employing an atextual analytical approach, and the sanctioned search violates the Fourth Amendment ban on general searches. Further, the Supreme Court needs to provide guidance to lower courts on how the property basis of the Fourth Amendment should be applied to digital searches, using an analysis not based exclusively on ephemeral “expectations of privacy.” Under the circuit court’s approach, no one would be safe from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Our brief was filed on behalf of U.S. Border Control Foundation, U.S. Border Control, Policy Analysis Center, U.S. Justice Foundation, Free Speech Coalition, Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, Center for Media and Democracy, Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Lincoln Institute, Institute on the Constitution, Downsize DC Foundation, DownsizeDC.org, Abraham Lincoln Foundation, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, English First, and English First Foundation.

Link to brief