This is a major victory for privacy advocates. It has long been the practice in most jurisdictions that if the cops get ahold of a suspects cell phone, they could just start going through it, particularly if that seizure was subject to an arrest. The Court’s ruling today says there is no exigency to justify the search, and there’s no reason that the government could not obtain a warrant before proceeding with the search. This follows a decision, Missouri v. McNeeley, by the U.S. Supreme Court that found that just because someone was suspected of DUI, the cops should get a warrant before ordering a blood draw.
Neither of these decisions prevent law enforcement activity. These decisions merely require that law enforcement obtain a warrant for certain kinds of searches. These decisions limit the scope of when a search can be conducted without a warrant, and strengthen the Constitutional safeguards that we enjoy in the United States and here in Florida.
Update: clarification that today’s decision was by the Florida Supreme Court