[T]he Court ... simply applies T.L.O. to declare unconstitutional a strip search of a 13-year-old honors student that was based on a groundless suspicion that she might behiding medicine in her underwear. This is, in essence, a case in which clearly established law meets clearly outrageous conduct. I have long believed 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.’"
Friday, June 26, 2009
(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)
-- U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (above left), concurring in part and dissenting in part yesterday in Safford United School District #1 v. Redding (quoting his own 1985 concurrence/dissent in the case of New Jersey v. T.L.O.).
In the opinion Stevens, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (right), contended that their colleagues should have upheld a lower court's decision to let go forward the damages suit filed by the girl, an Arizona middle school student when searched in 2003. They failed to persuade the rest of the Court, however. Although 6 Justices agreed that the search violated the 4th Amendment, they ruled that this was not "clearly established" in 2003, so that school officials were immune from suit. (SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston explains that a prospective matter this ruling does expand student privacy somewhat.) The 9th Justice, Clarence Thomas, filed a concurrence/dissent inverse to that of Stevens and Ginsburg: Thomas agreed officials were immune, but disagreed that strip searching the teenager violated the Constitution.