Facts of the case
2) Did the Ninth Circuit contravene Supreme Court precedent by analyzing whether the police department could have used "less intrusive methods" of reviewing text messages?
Not answered. Yes. The Supreme Court held that the City of Ontario did not violate its employees' Fourth Amendment rights because the city's search of Mr. Quon's text messages was reasonable. With Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing for the majority, the Court reasoned that even assuming that Mr. Quon had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his text messages, the city's search of them was reasonable because it was motivated by a legitimate work-related purpose and was not excessive in scope. In reaching its conclusion, the Court rejected the Ninth Circuit's "least intrusive" means approach to the issue.
Justice John Paul Stevens concurred. He observed that the majority had not settled on one of the three approaches enunciated in O'Connor v. Ortega for determining the parameters of a "reasonable expectation of privacy." He reasoned that under any of the three approaches, Mr. Quon's expectations were not violated. Justice Antonin Scalia concurred in part and concurred in the judgment. He disagreed that the Court tacitly reaffirmed the O'Connor framework for determining whether the Fourth Amendment applies to public employees, arguing that it was "standardless" and "unsupported."
Learn more about the Roberts Court and the Fourth Amendment in Shifting Scales, a nonpartisan Oyez resource.