This is another one of those cases -- this time, from the California Court of Appeal -- holding that it's totally okay for customs to look through the contents of your laptop at the border (here, at LAX) even without any reasonable suspicion of a crime. The Ninth Circuit had held the same thing here and here, and it's not at all surprising that the California Court of Appeal goes the same way.
Still, I gotta say, Part I of the opinion (which was the relevant portion) was way too flip for me. I think there are good counterarguments. Or at least decent ones. That should at least be addressed.
I forthrightly admit that I'm in the minority on the merits here. Nonetheless, I don't think that this issue is so clearcut and unimportant that it requires only perfunctory discussion.
One person's view, anyway.
Regardless, practical counsel: (1) Don't put kiddie porn on your laptop. Especially when reentering the U.S. And especially when reetering from Thailand. (2) Don't put anything -- anything -- on your laptop (letters to your spouse, financial data, attorney-client communications, etc.) that you bring back to the U.S. that you're not totally willing to give the government free rein to examine.