SCOTUS ruled today that strip searching middle school students is not cool.
When Arizona school officials suspected an eighth-grade girl of harboring ibuprofen, they made her strip down to her bra and underwear, and then a nurse watched as she shook her bra and shook her underwear to prove there were no pills
in her… on her person.
This sounds totally crazy on the Arizona officials’ part, but this girl was a suspicious character. She had been storing “several knives, lighters, a permanent marker, and a cigarette” in her day planner, according to the SCOTUS opinion [PDF]. That combined with Advil sounds like a rampage waiting to happen!
Lets take a look a those who concur, and those who dissent after the jump.
Justice John Paul Stevens points out in a concurring opinion that “[i]t does not require a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a 13-year-old child is an invasion of constitutional rights of some magnitude.” From the New York Times:
The officials in Safford, Ariz., would have been justified in 2003 had they limited their search to the backpack and outer clothing of Savana Redding, who was in the eighth grade at the time, the court ruled. But in searching her undergarments, they went too far and violated her Fourth Amendment privacy rights, the justices said.
In May, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed concern about her fellow justices’ lack of sympathy when it came to the 13-year-old’s humiliation. From USA Today:
During oral arguments, some other justices minimized the girl’s lasting humiliation, but Ginsburg stood out in her concern for the teenager.
“They have never been a 13-year-old girl,” she told USA TODAY later when asked about her colleagues’ comments during the arguments. “It’s a very sensitive age for a girl. I didn’t think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood.”
Seven of the male justices were sympathetic with the girl, but one wasn’t. Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenter, and is getting some criticism for his desire to grant access to the panties of 13-year-old girls.
Ginsburg: Court needs another woman [USA Today]
Settle Down, Clarence [True/Slant]
Supreme Court Says Child’s Rights Violated by Strip Search [New York Times]
Supreme Court Decision [PDF]