500 U.S. 565 (1991), argued 8 Jan. 1991, decided 30 May 1991 by vote of 6 to 3; Blackmun for the Court, Scalia concurring, Stevens in dissent. Until the 1991 Acevedo case was decided, two different rules governed the search of closed containers found in a motor vehicle. In United States v. Ross (1982), the Court held that if the police had probable cause to search an entire vehicle for contraband and came upon a closed container in the course of the automobile search, they could open the container without first obtaining a warrant. On the other hand, in Arkansas v. Sanders (1979) the justices had held that if probable cause focused exclusively on a particular closed container whose presence in a vehicle was purely fortuitous, the police had to obtain a search warrant before opening it.
Kamisar, Yale. "California v. Acevedo." In The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions. 2d ed., edited by K. L. Hall and J. W. Ely Jr., 52-3. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009.