Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in School Strip Search Case

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

And it doesn’t look good. By the NY Times account of yesterday’s arguments, even the Court’s liberal justices seemed amenable to strip searches by school administrators. A couple justices even seemed to endorse the idea of body cavity searches.

Justice Breyer elaborated on what children put in their underwear. “In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day,” he said. “We changed for gym, O.K.? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear.”

The courtroom rocked with laughter, and the justice grew a little flustered at having apparently misspoken…

Several justices appeared troubled by the search, but also seemed loath to second-guess school officials confronted with a variety of dangerous substances.

“My thought process,” Justice Souter said, “is I would rather have the kid embarrassed by a strip search, if we can’t find anything short of that, than to have some other kids dead because the stuff is distributed at lunchtime and things go awry.”

Can anyone think of a single incident in the last 30 years in which several children have died after ingesting drugs distributed by one of their classmates on school grounds? Before we let school principals go rummaging through the panties of underage girls, shouldn’t we be at least be able to cite a few examples?

It’s a little troubling to see how comfortable these old men (Ginsburg isn’t quoted in the article) seem to be with allowing school administrators access to the genitalia of school children based on nothing more than a hunch that they might be “crotching” some ibuprofen.

At this point, the drug war really can’t be parodied, can it?

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108 Responses to “Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in School Strip Search Case”

  1. #1 |  Kristen | 

    It’s about time the Court formalized the “child abuse” exception to the Fourth Amendment. Now we can get started on that “child rape” exception…

  2. #2 |  OGRE | 

    Of course they can strip search the kids. Its real simple. We are all just property of the federal government. If they don’t want us to have something, say aspirin or cold medicine, they can ensure that we don’t possess it, and they can search us as thoroughly as they desire.

    The kids should be ashamed of raising a ‘suspicion’ of ibuprofen possession and the parents should be required to attend state approved parenting classes. They should be thankful that the principal cared so much for the student as to strip search her.

  3. #3 |  Josh | 

    How soon before school principals start asking for their own SWAT teams?

  4. #4 |  ktc2 | 

    The SCOTUS is beyond contempt. They are so lost in lawyer speak fantasy land that the can no longer even just read the plain English of the laws they are charged to interpret.

    Perhaps is they do go so far as to authorize body cavity searches on 12 year olds for ibuprofen it will finally provoke the long overdue rage reaction amongst the sheeple, but I highly doubt it.

  5. #5 |  Ben | 

    I remember this guy in Algebra II class in my junior year. His name was Dan.

    Dan looked pretty messed up on something when he walked in. We took our test that was scheduled for that day. He got something like a 96. Best grade he’d gotten on a test that year.

    Turns out he’d dropped three tabs of acid before the previous class. There’s a lesson here, I think.

  6. #6 |  Mattocracy | 

    I have lost a lot of faith with this whole checks and balances thing.

  7. #7 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    ..and how long before perverts and pedophiles start using this safety angle to fondle our kids?

    Jesus Christ..It’s bad enough they’re already drawn to the profession, but now the SCOTUS is going to give them an umbrella under which to get their sick jollies off?

    How long before some sick pederast principal is eating buckshot from a parent who has had enough of this shit?

  8. #8 |  freedomfan | 

    It’s a pipe dream, I know, but each parent at any school with this policy should write a letter stating clearly their reaction to the tactic of strip-searching children rumored to have ibuprofin. Something like the following would be appropriate:

    Before you ever strip search my daughter, you had better have proof that she is carrying something that presents a clear and immediate threat of direct harm to others. And, I do not mean aspirin or Midol. And, I don’t mean that you happen to find something in a search that started out as a fishing expedition; I mean you have documented solid evidence before any search takes place. If you do not, you are simply molesting my daughter and I will kill you. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what “authority” you claim. You will be dead. Full stop.

    I do not care that certain trivial substances have made their way on to the bad lists of the busybodies on the school board. I don’t care that some idiot will claim strip searching students is necessary to provide a school environment conducive to learning. I don’t care that “the school has adopted a zero-intelligence policy with regard to ibuprofin.” I am flatly denying their authority to make that decision. Although I suspect that most parents agree with my position, it is utterly irrelevant what claim of legitimacy or support the school officials have. They do not have the right to molest a child, regardless of whatever scare-mongering nonsense they use to justify it. They do so at their peril.

  9. #9 |  Kieffer | 

    According to Souter’s flawed logic, just about any violation of the fourth amendment would be acceptable, as long as a government administrator identified a hypothetical public safety issue.

    Why should probable cause and a warrant be required to search the home of an evil drug dealer if all that is required to invade the underwear of a teenage girl is the inkling of a school principal?

    But then again, the Constitution only says “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” not “panties.” And if it doesn’t say it in writing, well, then it doesn’t exist … right, Justices? Right?!

    Assholes.

  10. #10 |  QDC | 

    I hope that people with school age children will encourage their local school boards to adopt a policy against administrator-conducted strip searches. I can’t imagine any parent would be comfortable with these searches, and it seems simple enough to keep the student in the principal’s office while the police are called if the need arises. Giving clear guidance to administrators also helps reduce the district’s liability.

    The scope of permissible searches under the Fourth Amendment doesn’t need to be the same as the scope of searches that are actually employed. A clear local policy is better protection day-to-day than even a favorable Supreme Court decision, in any case.

  11. #11 |  z | 

    Here’s a recent example . Granted, these deaths occurred post high school but the selling of the heroin was happening when they were in school.

  12. #12 |  Hannah | 

    Yet one more reason why I’m home schooling my kids.

  13. #13 |  jim | 

    This is going to end well. What is the under over before some mall security guard is found abusing this exception to molest 16 year old cheerleaders or 6 years.

  14. #14 |  Kristen | 

    freedomfan —

    “It’s a pipe dream, I know, but each parent at any school with this policy should write a letter stating clearly their reaction to the tactic of strip-searching children rumored to have ibuprofin.”

    I don’t have kids, but if I did my policy would be a lot simpler: “Strip my kid, I’m coming to your house with an aluminum bat. Then I’ll dare the jury to convict me.”

  15. #15 |  bcg | 

    re: Kristen #14
    I’m sure you would, Internet Tough Guy®. I’m sure you would.

  16. #16 |  ManM | 

    So SCOTUS has just legalized systematic child rape.

  17. #17 |  Ron | 

    If a parent tried the same thing even with legitimate suspicion the parent would go to jail for child abuse.

  18. #18 |  Ron | 

    tried the same thing on their own child that is

  19. #19 |  Mattocracy | 

    I’ve stated this once before and I’ll say it again. Minors are the last group of people in America without rights. Imagine if a teenager tried to defend his or herself from a school administrator strip search. Then he or she would be convicted as drug dealer and for assault.

    The only thing that could make this worse is if they charged a teenager with child pornography for getting naked for a strip search.

  20. #20 |  Dave Krueger | 

    “My thought process,” Justice Souter said, “is I would rather have the kid embarrassed by a strip search, if we can’t find anything short of that, than to have some other kids dead because the stuff is distributed at lunchtime and things go awry.”

    So the only downside to having your 4th amendment rights dispensed with is embarrassment. Well, I’m glad we cleared that up.

  21. #21 |  Ben | 

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124026115528336397.html

    This article just showed up in the TF queue. Here’s the money quote:

    At one of the assemblies, a student interrupted and accused Mr. Skumanick of trying to ruin the teens’ lives. “This isn’t a debate,” Mr. Skumanick told the senior boy, who was escorted out of the auditorium.

    This guy is sick, and so is our legal system.

  22. #22 |  David | 

    Z,Z,

    That’s not a great example to use in support of strip searching middle school students. For starters, All those “kids” were over 18, and the article says that they were accused of distributing to high school and VCU students, but nothing about distributing at the high school.

    What I’m afraid to see is how the court will justify such a search based on an accusation (however flimsy) alone, because we’re sliding toward “Spanish inquisition” stuff here.

    One thing that I’ve wondered is why the search was necessary at all? If you’re going to make a ta strip search is OK with no prior evidence, wouldn’t simply suspending the student based on the accusation be the better course of action?

    That’s not a great example to use in support of strip searching middle school students. For starters, All those “kids” were over 18, and the article says that they were accused of distributing to high school and VCU students, but nothing about distributing at the high school.

    What I’m afraid to see is how the court will justify such a search based on an accusation (however flimsy) alone, because we’re sliding toward “Spanish inquisition” stuff here.

    One thing that I’ve wondered is why the search was necessary at all? Wouldn’t simply suspending the student based on the accusation be the better course of action than making her strip? Or we’re they trying to find evidence to expel her?

    Mr. Wright did draw the line at searches of students’ body cavities, but only on the practical ground that school officials are not trained to conduct such searches. Mr. Wright said there was no legal obstacle to such a search.

    Apparently, by enrolling their children a public school, parents give their consent have a gloved hand inserted into their child’s anus.

  23. #23 |  Ben | 

    <blockquoteJustice Breyer elaborated on what children put in their underwear. “In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day,” he said.

    Stephen Gerald Breyer (born August 15, 1938). That means he’s refering to 1946-48.

    With all due respect, sir, things have changed in the time since 1948.

  24. #24 |  MassHole | 

    As a parent, I don’t know what I would do in this situation. It helps my family in no way by going to jail for assault and being sued. But goddamn it would be tough to keep my cool and not knock the shit out of that principal if he subjected my daughter to that.

  25. #25 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Apparently, by enrolling their children in a public school, parents give their consent to have a gloved hand inserted into their child’s anus.”

    Kinda makes you think, I mean really think, about the system under which we “live.”

    Consciousness is painful, but a good thing overall, IMHO.

    “No one is more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

  26. #26 |  Nick T | 

    Souter’s not only using flawed logic there but he’s completely abondoning abundantly obvious 4th Amendment principles. Generally, the calculus of these principles is whether the government had sufficient evidence to conduct the search in the actual manner. The standard is usually based on a very general understanding of the gov’s interest (“to apprehend a criminal,” or “to maintain a learning environment”) compared to the individual’s right (students have less rights in school).

    There is almost no analysis whatsoever that allows less probable cause to search the home of a murderer versus a suspected tax evader because the former could kill more people. PC is PC and the cops have it or they don’t. School’s typically need “reasonable suspicion” at each step of their search. There is no language in any jurisprudence I’m familiar with that says schools need less suspicion when searching for dangerous, lethal drugs as compared with searches for OTC drugs that simply violate school policies.

    And to compare it to “mere embarrassment” it’s absurd to the point of insult. We don’t expect citizens to justify their right to privacy when being searched, we presume it and hold it up as sacred. What a fuckstick!

    Souter sounds like a bed-wetting PTA mom rather than a guardian of liberty here. Pretty sad.

  27. #27 |  CRNewsom | 

    My wife is due in July. Very simply, my son’s rights will be protected by Smith & Wesson if SCOTUS isn’t up to the task. Sadly, this appears to be the case.

    I would like to remind all school administrators that they are not law enforcement officers, have absolutely no training in law enforcement, and are fully liable for their actions both in a court of law and court of public opinion.

  28. #28 |  dan | 

    I don’t have kids, but if I did my policy would be a lot simpler: “Strip my kid, I’m coming to your house with an aluminum bat. Then I’ll dare the jury to convict me.”

    I can reasonably forsee some upset parents beating up a school administrator that engaged in this sort of activity. I mean come on, you see umpires getting roughed up at a friggin pop warner or tee ball game, it isn’t too far to see the wrong parent’s kids getting stripped searched and someone winding up in the hospital or worse, since you may not be able to get any satisfaction from the courts.

    I’ve got some interesting “what if” scenario’s, though that would also make this sort of behavior an incredibly bad idea:

    What if the girl said that the administrator got a little too touchy feely in the panty search? What if they really did? Would YOU want to be the administrator accused of that?

    What if the student is actually informed on the 4th amendment and says no, fuck you, you can’t look inside my panties. What do you do then? Hold them down and strip search them? Call the cops? Call the parents? (maybe a good idea from the start…). I can’t simply see “mommie, a bunch of teachers held me down and ripped my clothes off” going over well with anyone.

    Alternatively, you may see a bunch of parents start taking their kids out of school to home school them, or better yet, initiate a voucher system and I bet this sort of crap will stop when the money dries up.

  29. #29 |  witless chum | 

    This is why Obama needs to appoint Zombie Thurgood Marshall, or someone to his left. There are no more liberals on that damn court.

    Is there any hope that Thomas or Scalia might have one of their fits of libertarianism? Or has the magic word “drugs” put a stop to that worry? Scalia’s comments in the story aren’t very reassuring, but justices seem to like to play devil’s advocate.

  30. #30 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    The Fourth Amendment is dead in the water.
    With the Herring case, where an erroneous warrant claim was
    not grounds for getting evidence thrown out, was passed, I gave up hope.
    The Bill of Rights was created to limit Government intrusion.
    Do people like Scalia even know that? I can’t tell.

  31. #31 |  Mike T | 

    How hard could the litmus test be? Unless the substance is illegal to possess or is legal, but the student has indicated it is to be used for hurting themselves or another, why would the school be authorized to take such an extreme action?

  32. #32 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    As the parent of an 11 year old girl…I have told her to flat-out refuse if ever confronted by the situation and to insist that she be able to contact me immediately and to keep repeating the words “LAW SUIT” until I get there.

    I’ve also told her to ignore threats of suspension, etc., as I AM the biggest SOB in the valley and this will be my fight….not hers.

    I have “Zero-Tolerance” policy when it comes to things like this….the school really wouldn’t want to know my policy on punishment for such offenses as it includes a baseball bat, an enema bag, a gallon of gasoline and a lighter…..

  33. #33 |  Tamryn | 

    They’ll be renamed to SCROTUS after this debacle of common sense.

    To be a school administrator will be the next dream profession of choice from now on, only second to being a priest…. of course.

  34. #34 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    So, kids are legally forced to expose themselves to their teachers, school nurses and principals, but are sex offenders if they send photos of the same to their classmates.
    W…T…F…

  35. #35 |  jet | 

    Two words:

    HOME SCHOOL

  36. #36 |  andyinsdca | 

    Not to be too much of a smartass, but you want an example? Ok, here’s an example from yesterday where 4 kids were sent to the hospital after taking an unknown drug:

    http://www.10news.com/news/19243942/detail.html

  37. #37 |  MacK | 

    Mr. Perverti why is Jimmy naked in your office?

    Well I overheard some students say that Jimmy takes aspirin for pain, so I thought it best to enforce our zero tolerance policy. Jimmy denied it, but I have just spent the last half hour checking him rectally, and he now wants some aspirin for his pain.

    Thank god that Supreme court approved these invasive, humiliating, unconstitutional policies, or we would never have been able to put Jimmy through this.

  38. #38 |  dave smith | 

    anyinsdca, if only there had been body cavity searches that morning.

  39. #39 |  MacK | 

    andyinsdca:

    Your link has convinced me that it would be OK for a teacher to sexually assault my daughter, so that these Darwin Award wannabees can be protected.

    $10 says it was a type of laxative.

  40. #40 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Soon the eating of paste will be a federal offense. Children across the country are addicted to the Minty Moo…

  41. #41 |  Carinna | 

    I am not NEARLY as easily outraged as most of the regular commenters here, but even I find this appalling.

  42. #42 |  David | 

    Andy,

    They were taken to the hospital because they didn’t know what they took and were experiencing nausea. Has they taken ibuprofen, there would be no need. And even with unknown pills, it wouldn’t be right to strip search them, or the person they accused of providing said pills, either. The school should call the police if they think a kid is handing out dangerous drugs.

  43. #43 |  Ben | 

    Ok, here’s an example from yesterday where 4 kids were sent to the hospital after taking an unknown drug:

    Mr. Darwin smiles on these kids. I remember going to a Dead show when I was like 18. Maybe younger. I was walking around the parking lot soaking up the sights and looking to score some bud. This hippie dude comes up to me and offers me some pills. I said “What are they?” not because I was interested in them but because I thought the answer might be entertaining. And sure enough it was: he said “I don’t know what they are, but they get you wicked high.” I said no thanks.

    Teach your kids not to eat things they don’t know where it comes from or what it is, simple as that.

  44. #44 |  Chance | 

    In a different article (the one on Slate) Ginsburg is quoted. She didn’t sound happy at all.

  45. #45 |  Comrade Dread | 

    My wife is due in July. Very simply, my son’s rights will be protected by Smith & Wesson if SCOTUS isn’t up to the task. Sadly, this appears to be the case.

    My wife is due in August, and aside from the fact that Louisville Slugger would be my civil rights defender of choice, I empathize with this.

    The kids are getting home schooled if this stands.

  46. #46 |  Salvo | 

    Ginsburg has usually been the voice of reason on the school drugs issues–her dissent in the case that allowed drug tests for pretty much every student was sarcastic and accused the majority of bringing up nightmare scenarios of “out of control tuba’s” or something like that–I remember reading the dissent and thought it was hilarious.

    My understanding yesterday is that she was appalled by the direction the court was taking; there’s a reason she’s my favorite justice.

    All of that being said…leaving aside the war on drugs…the point everybody seems to be missing is: assume for a moment that the student did have the drugs. WHAT FUCKING LAW WAS SHE BREAKING?! There is no state law, anywhere, that prohibits a child under the age of 18 from possessing FUCKING ADVIL. NONE.

    The fascist block of the court is about to decide that the government can search kids for any reason at all, regardless of whether or not the reason for the search was to uphold a law. She was in violation of a school policy at most. Not the law. Not a crime. Had they found it, maybe detention, but no criminal penalties. We’re talking about wholesale evisceration of the 4th amendment (which is already bloodied on the floor and dying) for a fucking administrative regulation. And only 1 (maybe 2–JPS didn’t seem too happy about it either) see the problem with it, while the rest are cracking jokes like this is a fucking teen sex romp.

    I weep.

  47. #47 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    This really sounds like a setup for a Dateline episode.

    “Hi, I’m here to apply for the Principal position.”

    “Have a seat over there.”

  48. #48 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    @ #47
    Pedobear principals

  49. #49 |  Rummaging Through Underage Girls’ Panties | 

    […] Radley Balko asks, can’t we at least have some empirical evidence that kids “crotch their drug stash” that […]

  50. #50 |  Big Chief | 

    I had thought this case was taken by SCOTUS because it was so obviously a violation of every aspect of common sense and the rule of law. SCOTUS could shine the clear light of reason on this and get schools involved in doing other stuff, like, I don’t know, maybe teaching kids reading and writing and other trivial stuff. So I was stunned to read the write ups about the verbal argument.

    School teachers aren’t cops. They shouldn’t be allowed to discuss “probable cause.” If it gets to the point that they think they need a kid strip searched, they should call the local LEOs (I’d like to see the cops face when the principle said they were checking the girl on suspicion of distributing ibuprofen). And the LEOs should require that it be something that is actually illegal.

    And that idiot Souter’s comment, please, can we call an end to the “for the children” defense. There’s seemingly no end to how much we can destroy rights generally and hurt children specifically to “save the children.”

  51. #51 |  Steve Verdon | 

    z,

    Were any members of the drug ring hiding drugs in their underwear? I don’t doubt that drugs are on some school campuses, maybe even many or possibly even most. But the issue is how often are the drugs hidden in the dealer’s underwear?

    andyinca,

    Again, same question were the drugs hidden in the students undewear? Would a standard search have found the drugs.

    Maybe we should simply have all students strip searched upon entering the school everyday.

    [I wish I could use /sarcasm, but I can’t]

  52. #52 |  Salvo | 

    @Big Chief–I admire your optimism, but you haven’t been paying attention to recent school jurisprudence. The current tenor is summed up by Scalia’s stance that schools are akin to prisons and students have no rights beyond what the district may or may not grant them. Thomas is Scalia’s yes-man, and Alito’s nickname of Scalito is well deserved. The Dread Justice Roberts is like Rehnquist(who never met a 4th Amendment reg that he didn’t try to kill), except more subtle. Kennedy tends to think drugs always override any protections (See Bong Hits 4 Jesus), and Souter reminds me of Mrs. Lovejoy(won’t someone think of the children!!). Which leaves Breyer (who I think was a former prosecutor–don’t quote me on that though–maybe it was Souter). And then JPS and Ginsburg, who are the only sane ones regarding this stuff.

  53. #53 |  Big Chief | 

    @ Salvo,
    The prison comparison could explain the food. But maybe we should stay optimistic. We should be able to count on the same rational constitutional jurisprudence that brought us Kelo and Raich. Honestly, how did the Heller decision manage to squeak through?

  54. #54 |  Andrew S. | 

    My wife is due soon (within the next few weeks). I told her about this last night and said that our daughter is going to private school; she’s not going into the public school system.

    This is sick.

  55. #55 |  Marty | 

    #47 | Brandon Bowers
    my thoughts exactly- any pedophile with a degree will want to be in education…

    #53 | Andrew S.
    private schools typically fall in line with public schools. in st. louis, the archdiocese started full on drug testing last year. the curriculum and the policies mimic public schools, but they have uniforms and religion class.

  56. #56 |  James J. B. | 

    What a legal wizard Souter is. Re the “embarrassment” of a search – yes, yes, let’s burn the village so we can save it.

    I fail to understand how this indistinguishable man was selected to be on the high court. The words collossal disappointment do not even begin to describe his legal thinking.

  57. #57 |  Are Your Kids Going to School or Jail? « Tiny Cat Pants | 

    […] Posted on April 22, 2009 by Aunt B. Rachel brought this up the other day, but I think Radley Balko sums it up exactly right: It’s a little troubling to see how comfortable these old men (Ginsburg isn’t […]

  58. #58 |  Salvo | 

    @Big Chief–Honestly? Heller got through because Scalia and his yes men are hacks who’s “original intent” jurisprudence changes depending on whether the dirty hippies are for or against something. Hence you get states rights/no commerce clause invoked when it’s for something like gun control as discussed in Lopez, but federal hand controls when the states decide to legalize marijuana as in Raich, or allow assisted suicide. He has no actual governing legal philosophy other than what is currently in conservative vogue at the moment.

    Contrast to Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit, who is conservative, but damn if you can’t tell which way he’ll decide each and every time because he’s just that consistent. Amoral ass , but I admire his legal philosophy.

  59. #59 |  David | 

    Here’s a question…

    If the Court decide that strip searches are legal when perform by public school officials, are they also legal for private school officials?

  60. #60 |  Big Chief | 

    @Salvo – But can you say you were confident that Heller was going to go through? It barely made it anyway. And it’s particularly incredible when you consider that this was essentially the same court that used such convoluted jurisprudence to justify deciding Kelo and Raich in favor of Big Brother. If they decide for the school on this one, the Heller decision should be accorded the status of a miracle of biblical proportions.

  61. #61 |  MacGregory | 

    ABC interviewed the girl last night.
    “They keep saying that ‘we’re doing it to keep everyone safe.’ What about me? They didn’t help me by doing that.”

    Welcome to the libertarian party, young lady.

  62. #62 |  MacK | 

    #57 David

    Probably not legal for private schools even though they may have the same zero tolerance policies, and just as many perverts that want in on the action.

    The big difference is all of the people that work in the public school systems are employed by government, and therefore are elite. Any employ of a private education facility is nothing more then any other citizen.

  63. #63 |  Salvo | 

    @Big Chief–Yes, at the time, I was about 90% positive that Heller was going to go through. I’m pretty decent at predicting decisions solely based on past jurisprudence, and the anti-Heller votes just weren’t there. Scalia was a sure thing–it was heavily supported by the GOP. That immediately brings along Roberts, Alito and Thomas. So you’re already at 4. Kennedy was a bit of a wild card–the only justice more inconsistant than he is was O’Connor–both follow the pragmatic school of jurisprudence which, simply stated says, “screw the legal consistency, let’s come up with the outcome we want and justify it after the fact”.

    Either way, the margin never really matters; what only matters is whether the votes are there, and most of the justices are very predictable, once you know their political leanings. That’s why the Benton overturning is such major news, and I’m surprised there hasn’t been more commentary on it, especially given the line up.

    Generally speaking though, the more political ramifications a decision has, the easier it is to predict. The Heller decision, regardless of how one feels about the outcome, was the most political decision to come out since Bush v. Gore.

  64. #64 |  Big Chief | 

    @Salvo, That’s a reasonable analysis. So which way is this one going?

  65. #65 |  Salvo | 

    @Big Chief–the school decision? My guess is 7-2, maybe 6-3 (over all, ignoring concurrences) for the school. Dissenters will be Ginsberg, JPS, and maybe, big maybe, Breyer, but I’m not going to count on that last one.

    There are a few ways the decision could be structured.

    1. Schools have a right to strip search, but a concurrence from Kennedy and Souter(+ or – Breyer) will say that it was unreasonable in this case, and they will lay out why they think it is so and establish rules, oh, but the District has immunity, so the case is thrown out anyways.

    2. Schools have a right to strip search, in every case.

    3. Schools have a right to strip search, it was reasonable in this case, but here are the rules that make it reasonable.

    4. Schools have a right to strip search, but it was unreasonable in this case, and here are the rules that would have made it reasonable.

    5. Schools have a right to strip search, but a concurrence from Kennedy and Souter (+ or – Breyer) will specifically note that while it was reasonable in this case, there may be times when it is not, but will neglect to state what those times may be.

    In order of likelihood, and because SCOTUS never is clear when obfuscation is easier, I would go: 5, 1, 3, 4, 2.

  66. #66 |  ghjost | 

    I can hear it now. “If she wasn’t taking aspirin in school, we wouldn’t have strip searched her”
    “But she had a headache”
    “Likely story…for a scum-of-the-earth drug dealer”

    gj, SCOTUS. gj.

  67. #67 |  MacK | 

    #61 Salvo I believe you may be referring to Belton not Benton.
    I also believe the Belton vs New York was not overturned, but clarified.

    If we are on the same page the case you are referring to is ARIZONA v. GANT.

    It will now not be so easy for police to search a vehicle after arrest.
    If you are arrested, and no longer within reach of the interior of your vehicle then police will not be able to say they searched for officer safety since you could no longer get to anything to harm them with.

    Also it will prevent them from searching to preserve evidence unless the evidence relates to the reason for arrest.

    If they arrest you, because they smell marijuana, they can search to find the marijuana that caused said odor, so it may be used as evidence.

    If they arrest you, because you slapped a teacher for strip searching your child, then they could not search your car, because there would be no slap to use as evidence.

  68. #68 |  Pool Tables & Penis-Grabbing « Just Another Pretty Farce | 

    […] Tip: The Divine Miss R, Radley BalkoReddit Libertarian and of course Aunt B. Oh, and Meredith […]

  69. #69 |  Salvo | 

    @#64 MacK: Ah, yes. Thanks. Belton. Was flying off the cuff their. Knew it was B-something.

    My thought on the entire thing is that yes, while Gant was phrased as a clarification, it might as well have been a reversal of Belton. I haven’t read Gant yet, but news reports that have summed it up pretty much will re-write the law school texts on this sort of thing. Before, IIRC(it’s been a long time since I took crim pro) if a cop arrested you, even if you weren’t in your car at the time, and they had your car in custody, they could search without a warrant; in fact, this was a common police tactic to gain access to the car: arrest and then search. In fact, if you were stopped during a routine traffic stop, they asked to search your car and you said no, many a times, you would be arrested on a throw-away charge so they could get access, and it was Belton that allowed it.

    The fact that this is now prohibited is a sign that maybe there’s a little life left in the 4th. Not much, after today’s arguments, but a little.

  70. #70 |  CRNewsom | 

    @#65 Salvo: While I agree with you that there may be some life left in the 4th, it will be gone with this argument:

    We arrested you for slapping the principal responsible for strip searching your child, and searched your car because it was on school grounds and could have contained a bottle of ibuprofen that someone could have broken a window and accessed. It is for children’s safety, after all.

  71. #71 |  MacK | 

    Yes Gant is very good news to be honest, because it will effect any person that drives. Now people just need to apply that Nancy Reagan motto when police ask to search your car, and “Just SAY NO!”.

    We can only hope that things turn out as well for our children in Safford Unified School District v. Redding.

  72. #72 |  Buck Naked Politics | 

    Supremes Don’t Care if School Officials Strip Search Your Daughter To Look for Advil…

    by Damozel | Chief Justice Roberts said it is probably reasonable for a school official to demand that your kid shake out her bra, which is what happened to 13 year old Savanna Redding, strip-searched by [female] school officials in Arizona on suspicio…

  73. #73 |  MacK | 

    #66 | CRNewsom

    Your scenario is exactly what was stopped Under Arizona vs Gant.

    The search pursuant to arrest must now be for officer or public safety only if you still have access to said searched vehicle, or preservation of evidence that is directly related to the arrest.

    If I interpreted the Supreme Court Opinion incorrectly I’m sorry.
    I have read it twice now, and that is the conclusion I came up with.
    If someone else inferred it differently, then I would be interested in your opinion.

  74. #74 |  Geoff | 

    It sounds like we are trading the risk to students for the risk to administrators. Our society identifies with movies like “A Time to Kill” ($108M box office) because we can justify violence against those that violate children, especially if the violation is sexual in nature. It stands to reason that giving school administrators a license to strip search will increase the health danger to these administrators from violent confrontations with angry parents. So assuming we will reduce the danger of ingesting harmful drugs by students with this new approach, is there a net increase or decrease in overall safety when you factor in the increased likelihood of injury and death to administrators?

  75. #75 |  Comrade Dread | 

    Wonder how long it will be before we have students strip searched to match their breasts or genitalia to sexting photos the admins have intercepted.

  76. #76 |  CRNewsom | 

    @#68 MacK: My apologies, I didn’t make my emphasis clear. My hypothetical scenario, the car was parked at a school. It seems that schools are protected from the constitution. The irony of course being we teach our children about a document in a location to which it does not apply.

  77. #77 |  MacK | 

    #71 | CRNewsom:
    “The irony of course being we teach our children about a document in a location to which it does not apply.”

    That is very insightful.

    Yes you are correct, if it was on a public school ground then all manner of sanity, and 4th Amendment protection is null, and void.

    That is certainly what is being said in regard to Redding. Instead of common sense prevailing, the 4th Amendment, and sanity are being tossed under the proverbial school bus.

  78. #78 |  concernedcitizen | 

    I’m just wondering why we haven’t talked about Arizona v. Gant yet.

    The Supreme Court has gotten all these fourth and fifth amendment cases wrong, but they finally got one right. I’m holding out hope that this one is one where they appear to be friendly to one side and then go completely the other way.

    http://www.dallascriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/2009/04/scotus_case_of_the_day_arizona.html

  79. #79 |  Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Supreme Court One Step Closer To Allowing Strip Searches In Schools | 

    […] in agreement with Radley Balko, who says that the reports from yesterday’s oral argument are not encouraging at all for anyone who believes in civil liberties: Can anyone think of a single incident in the last 30 years in which several children have died […]

  80. #80 |  The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » Supreme Court One Step Closer To Allowing Strip Searches In Schools | 

    […] in agreement with Radley Balko, who says that the reports from yesterday’s oral argument are not encouraging at all for anyone who believes in civil liberties: Can anyone think of a single incident in the last 30 years in which several children have died […]

  81. #81 |  CC | 

    My question is, what happens when this decision becomes famous, and kids get the idea that it’s OK for ANY adult at school to strip search them?

  82. #82 |  Matt I. | 

    in 1969, the Supreme Court said that ‘students do not drop their 4th amendment rights at the school gates.’

    After the decision in this case, that will formally be reversed. Since students can already

    a) have their lockers searched with ‘mere suspicion’

    b) be subject to random drug tests

    and now

    c) be stripped naked on the mere accusation of a random student, what 4th amendment rights DO they have? I would like one of the Supreme Court injustices to answer that.

    Also, the effect of this is far more reaching than that. What do you think society will be like when children are taught from an early age that this is how any ‘authority’ can deal with them? Do we think that they are magically going to start asserting their rights when they turn 18?

    To me, there is no point in trying to fight this in courts or by ‘informing people’.

    There are simply too many people who don’t care and are afraid and just want to be left alone.

    To me the solution to this problem is the ‘direct solution’. And it WILL take martyrs.

  83. #83 |  Zargon | 

    “Also, the effect of this is far more reaching than that. What do you think society will be like when children are taught from an early age that this is how any ‘authority’ can deal with them? Do we think that they are magically going to start asserting their rights when they turn 18?”

    This has been going on for quite some time, and my suspicion is that when the chain gets lengthened at age 18/21, most people don’t notice/care it’s still there because their freedom has apparently been greatly increased. I further suspect this has been done on purpose, to train children from an early age to act like slaves so they don’t notice it later. But even if it was not intentional, it is no less evil, because the results do not depend on intentions.

  84. #84 |  Tokin42 | 

    I just wanna point out one thing. The blog post with the most comments that I can remember on radleys site is about strip searching teen girls. That is all.

  85. #85 |  MacK | 

    #84 Tokin42:

    I do not think it is so much about stripping young girls. It is about the state saying it is OK to strip young girls, so long as they attend a publicly approved institution.

    I do not think there is one parent, or future parent in this forum, that wants a stranger allowed by law to sexually assault our children. I truly do believe that if you force a 13 year old to pull under garments away from their bodies allowing you to see their most private parts that is assault. I also believe that almost always the teachers, and administrators of public schools are strangers to parents. Do you know the address, or what color the dining room wall of the principal’s home is?

    I also feel like many others on here that if my 13 year old child was subjected to such a search, there would be no need for a court, or the police. Well! Not until I had doled out the proper punishment that the child molester deserved.

  86. #86 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Private school is so expensive.

    And so worth every last penny.

  87. #87 |  moldy | 

    Not until they move parking lots miles and miles away from bars can “they” use the “in the interest of public safety” crap. It’s just their fear that is important, not ours.

  88. #88 |  Greg C | 

    The State supports child molestation as long as it’s done by the State.

  89. #89 |  Big Chief | 

    There’s another part of this case that I don’t recall reading about that interests me. While the school system and administration are clearly the main culprits in this whole fiasco, I can’t help but wonder about what happened to the girl who claimed the Redding girl was carrying the life-threatening pill (lol) and was obviously lying. Did she suffer any consequences for falsely accusing Ms. Redding? I’m sure she didn’t imagine that the school administration would overreact so badly, so I don’t think she should carry the primary blame, but it would seem just if she got at least a detention or short suspension.

    One of the (many) travesties of the drug war is the use of single, often questionable, informants as the sole basis for carrying out a raid. As readers of this site know, this sometimes results in the full power of government being brought to bear on an innocent person. Perhaps I’ve missed them, but I don’t recall reading reports of these informants suffering some consequence for their actions when they falsely accuse someone. Certainly they don’t carry the culpability of the police or DEA that carry out the damaging raids that usually result, but if informants carried some sort of liability at least the number of people falsely accused and injured by this ridiculous war on drugs might decrease.

  90. #90 |  Tokin42 | 

    Mack,

    It was a joke. I would have hoped an obvious joke. It struck me funny that the only post i’ve seen generate almost 100 comments is one about strip searching teen girls, my apologies.

  91. #91 |  Chris in AL | 

    Aren’t we all responsible for protecting children? Not just school officials. I mean, what about scout retreats? Skating parties? Slumber parties?

    If you are the Adult Supervisor on seen, and will be held criminally liable if these kids consume drugs on your watch, aren’t you morally obligated to strip search kids yourself if you have reason to suspect they have something dangerous in their possession?

    Do we really want to give this power only to school officials, when our children spend much of their lives not at school but still under another adult’s supervision? How can we truly protect them unless everyone has the right to strip search them? If a bunch of kids die because of the crack they hid in their underpants, can we really console ourselves with the thought that “if they had just been at school!”

    Are they to be at risk all through summer break?

  92. #92 |  Salvo | 

    @Big Chief #89: Funny you should ask that; that was specifically brought up during oral arguments. Counsel for the District was arguing that there was reasonable suspicion to search based on the several day old, vague accusations of the informant, because kids had an incentive not to lie; if the accusation turned out to be false, the informant would be punished for lying.

    So, one of the justices asked that very question: What happened to the informant?

    And then counsel admitted that she had received no punishment at all.

    So basically, the innocent girl who gets strip searched is punished; the person who fingered her who turned out to be lying got away scot free.

  93. #93 |  CTD | 

    What if the student is actually informed on the 4th amendment and says no, fuck you, you can’t look inside my panties. What do you do then?

    Taser her to ensure her “compliance”, of course…

  94. #94 |  Supremely Searching « Around The Sphere | 

    […] http://www.theagitator.com/2009/04/22/supreme-court-hears-oral-arguments-in-school-strip-search-case… Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Supreme Court Decisions, including evolution […]

  95. #95 |  MacK | 

    Tokin42, no need to be sorry. I was not offended, nor do I disagree with you at all. I was just using your post as a jumping off point. I’m sorry if you mistook my rant against our governments abuses as an affront against your opinion.

    Chris in AL, although it was suggested by using private school as a foil, you are completely on point. Who, or under what circumstances could someone act on this ruling, should it pass. Would it only be government officials, or any adult in control of a child’s well being?

  96. #96 |  Robert | 

    What if the student is actually informed on the 4th amendment and says no, fuck you, you can’t look inside my panties. What do you do then?

    Taser her to ensure her “compliance”, of course…

    One can possibly argue that the student doesn’t have the “right” to refuse the strip search.

    However… the reason I think the court should not find in the school’s favor is that the student doesn’t have the “right” to consent to it. It’s no different than if the principal had sex with the student, she’s not old enough to consent to that, so in the same token she should not be old enough to consent to a strip search either.

    The only way the strip search should have been allowed is if her parents had been contacted and either 1. agreed to it, or 2. performed the search themselves.

    I wonder if the court would be so lenient if this were an 8 or 6 year old girl?

  97. #97 |  Anonymous | 

    Mom Blogs – Blogs for Moms…

  98. #98 |  ManM | 

    “It’s no different than if the principal had sex with the student, she’s not old enough to consent to that, so in the same token she should not be old enough to consent to a strip search either.

    The only way the strip search should have been allowed is if her parents had been contacted and either 1. agreed to it, or 2. performed the search themselves.”

    By that logic the principal could have sex with the student, provided the parents consented.

  99. #99 |  KBCraig | 

    #75 Comrade Dread:

    Wonder how long it will be before we have students strip searched to match their breasts or genitalia to sexting photos the admins have intercepted.

    “Please, please, can we call it a ‘tallywhacker’? ‘Penis’ is so p-p-p-personal.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgFCV2i6xxI

    I’m waiting for the case in which a student surreptitiously records the whole event with her cell phone, sends it the media, and is prosecuted for producing child porn.

  100. #100 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “…people did sometimes stick things in my underwear.”

    Since all us citizens exist only at the tender mercy of the state, I’d like to shove my cheese hog in yer fucking underwear, Breyer.

    No lube!

  101. #101 |  Chris | 

    Ginsburg was really the only one that seemed appalled by what happened. The Supreme Court inadvertently yesterday made a great case for diversity being a good thing. 8 old men basically acted like it was no big deal to strip to underwear and seemed happy to recount their stories of running around in their underpants at that age. The only justice that had ever been a 13 year old girl, however, was outraged at what had happened. The other justices also seem caught up in the panic about kids and drugs. When the lawyer for the school board claimed that kids were huffing black markers, what I would have given for one justice to ask the school board lawyer to tell him how many confirmed cases of marker huffing there really are. More than likely, the lawyer just heard it from someone, with the someone likely being a person whose job or tactics depend on adults being panicked by scary stories about kids and drugs.

  102. #102 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    OK. All I’ve seen is that Americans put up with everything the state does to them. And, they will put up with this too. ED abuse, taxes, bailout looting, Katrina, SWAT, puppycide, no WMD, wire taps, etc…

    Before you neg karma me, does anyone here want to bet a year’s salary that this goes–at best–like Kelo? Until there’s a real revolution in the USA (not a tea party that’s already forgotten), the people will have no power here. None.

    And I ain’t going to bet an ounce of silver on the revolution being peaceful.

  103. #103 |  Stephen | 

    I’m in the “baseball bat applied to principal” crowd.

    Any finger(or any other body part) that goes up my kids but will end up in a jar of formaldehyde above my fireplace.

  104. #104 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Any finger(or any other body part) that goes up my kids but will end up in a jar of formaldehyde above my fireplace.

    With the owner still attached.

  105. #105 |  JS | 

    @100 Boyd Durkin “Since all us citizens exist only at the tender mercy of the state, I’d like to shove my cheese hog in yer fucking underwear, Breyer.

    No lube!”

    While I’m pretty sure I think I agree with your sentiments I must ask, what the hell is a cheese hog?

  106. #106 |  ian | 

    I would kill anyone that did this to one of my kids. No questions asked, no forethought, straight up kill.

  107. #107 |  pam | 

    It’s confirmed, they are dirty old men.

    To me the contradiction is that we can’t trust kids with Advil, but they are adult enough to go to prison for life. There seems to be a great big hole the size of the Grand Canyon in that logic.

  108. #108 |  Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Blogs discussing the “strip search” case | 

    […] The Agitator, responding to a comment by Justice Souter, writes: Can anyone think of a single incident in the last 30 years in which several children have died after ingesting drugs distributed by one of their classmates on school grounds? Before we let school principals go rummaging through the panties of underage girls, shouldn’t we be at least be able to cite a few examples? […]

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