Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yeah - High court against blantantly illegal strip searches of 13 year olds!

The Supreme Court surprised me today and decided, 8-1, that it was a violation of the Fourth Amendment to strip search a 13-year-old girl in search of advil. Advil. The lone evidence that Savanah Redding even had the "drug" came from a fellow student who had been caught with the drugs.

There was no evidence, as the court noted, that she was hiding them in her underwear.

As Justice Souter said for the majority...

What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana [Redding]
was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or
their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her
underwear. We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to
finding the search reasonable."

I really had hoped for this outcome. Though based on the oral arguments, I wasn't entirely sure it was likely. I'm mixed on the immunity for the administrators. Its a nice compromise, but really, if there isn't liability for a horrible search like this one, what's the real outcome: "Ooops, sorry we strip searched your innocent 13-year-old daughter. We'll try not to make that mistake again."

I have to call out Justice Thomas on this one. I generally like Thomas, despite his many detractors who are often distracted by other things to really see what is going on, but his dissent is unreal. Absolutely unreal.

The school needs to keep order? By conducting strip searches of areas where no drugs are suspected, even when the drug is Advil? And if he is going to support this, why not then just approve of cavity searches? I mean, the drugs could have been stashed there, as well, right? Since the administrators admitted they didn't "see anything," maybe Savanah had them tucked away in her ass crack (or worse) for safe keeping?

This is really just another offshoot of the crazy war on drugs and zero tolerance policies. I mean, a strip search and Supreme Court case over Advil?

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