School Strip Search Was Illegal
June 25, 2009 § Leave a Comment
This is a victory for students and members of the general public who are partial to logic:
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a school’s strip search of an Arizona teenage girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen was illegal.
The court ruled 8-1 on Thursday that school officials violated the law with their search of Savana Redding in the rural eastern Arizona town of Safford.
Redding, who now attends college, was 13 when officials at Safford Middle School ordered her to remove her clothes and shake out her underwear because they were looking for pills — the equivalent of two Advils. The district bans prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the school was acting on a tip from another student.
“What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana 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,” Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. “We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable.”
Amen. I’m not totally down with the idea that students’ civil rights can be restricted once they step into a school building — or even outside, if they are representing the image of their school — but I am absolutely, fervently against any rights-limiting policy that doesn’t even pretend to be in the interest of someone’s safety. Hell, even if Redding had had two ibuprofen in her frickin’ underwear — who the fuck cares? The priorities of the public school system are sometimes so baffling to me.