April 21, 2009

When school officials strip search a 13-year-old girl who they think might have some extra-strength ibuprofen...

The Supreme Court heard argument today in Safford School District vs. Redding, and the Justices seemed pretty sympathetic to the school:
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the school officials should be shielded from being sued since the law governing school searches had not been clear...

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy... objected when Adam Wolf, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer for Redding, argued that the strip search was unreasonable because there was no evidence she was hiding anything in her underwear.

"Is the nature of drug irrelevant?" he asked. "What if it was meth to be consumed at noon?"...

It is "a logical thing" for adolescents to hide things, [Justice Breyer] said. A student might stick something "in their underwear," he added, provoking laughter when he said that this had happened to him at school. "It's not beyond human experience."...

"Better embarrassment [of one student] than the risk of violent sickness and death," Souter said.

113 comments:

Salamandyr said...

Did they know they were strip searching her for ibuprofen?

chickenlittle said...

Take away the financial incentive of suing a school district and see where such a case goes.

Joe said...

I still remember being a kid and thinking I had no rights. Of course I was correct: I had none. And this kind of idiocy proves it.

We want to protect and nurture our children, and in the process we step all over them, forgetting how much we tend in the process to teach them that individual liberty is shit.

The Other Jeremy said...

Sal - The article indicates that they were looking for "white pills" but that there was no particular reason to think they were hidden in the underroos.

chicken - incentive of suing them in the event of a sickness from taking a pill or suing for an unreasonable strip search?

Skyler said...

When I was in school we didn't have cops in the school. Kids always had knives, big ones and small ones. In elementary school one boy brought a bb gun to school on a regular basis. No one ever complained that I know of. That wasn't so long ago.

I'll just have to let the principal know, if I can't keep my daughter out of public schools, that I will exact personal revenge in the most horrible manner if he ever ever ever tries to strip search my daughter for anything that doesn't include dismembered bodies as the cause of the search.

traditionalguy said...

All of a sudden children at age 13 should not be protected from personal strip humiliation as adults are protected, during their daily captivity within the government schools. But these same Justices will always protect them from any Christian based beliefs sneaking into government schools to enlighten them. Whose side are these Justices on?

Skyler said...

Because we can't trust the courts to protect our children. When there is a breakdown in the law, then this would be the only resort remaining.

TosaGuy said...

Lots of tangents and words meant to incite sympathy in this article. I would like to know more about why and how the law in question is unclear before I get my undies in twist!

Clyde said...

The chilling thing about the Justices' arguments above is that they seem to be saying that the War On Drugs is so important that it overrides the Constitutional rights of minors (for their own good, of course -- it's always "For The Children!") is that from there, it's just a hop, skip and a jump to saying that the same thing should apply to adults as well.

After all, why should some alleged adult criminal have a right to avoid unreasonable search and seizure while his younger brother in high school doesn't? If you can strip search a middle schooler for some prescription strength aspirin, then why shouldn't the cops be able to stop anyone they choose and search them for whatever they can find, probable cause be damned? It's the same thing, after all, only a difference in degree. Either it's okay or it's not.

But down that road lies fascism. The all-powerful, all-knowing State can do whatever it chooses to the weak and puny individual Citizen, unless there's something powerful to prevent it from doing so. Like a Constitution with enumerated Rights like the Fourth Amendment, for instance. And the balance of power continues to tilt more and more away from the individual Ciizen and toward the State. Water down the rights for some (like minors) and you are, essentially, watering down the rights for all in the long run.

American Liberal Elite said...

These zero tolerance rules relieve school employees from having to exercise even the most rudimentary level of judgment and common sense. We're talking about ibuprofen here.

Strip searching a child should not be permitted without probable cause that the child is illegally concealing a controlled substance.

Brooklyn Redneck said...

Ridiculous. She would be better off using drugs than the damage done by these fascists strip searching her. The drug hysteria is crazy.

Stop respecting the authority of the government.

chickenlittle said...

incentive of suing them in the event of a sickness from taking a pill or suing for an unreasonable strip search?

The incentive of holding (deep pocket) districts responsible for possible liability of persons if policy is unclear. Seems to happen all the time out here. Motive is greed, not public good.

mcg said...

We're talking about ibuprofen here.Yes, that's what this pills turned out to be. By the same logic a cop ought to be tossed for shooting an armed suspect if it is discovered after the fact that the gun wasn't loaded.

Look, when I see a potential decision that has Breyer and Scalia on the same side, I am motivated to take a second look. That doesn't mean they're right but it does suggest something's up. Does anyone have a good link that talks more about the case?

mcg said...

Well, here's the ScotusWiki article, and it provides some important information.

For instance, the article suggests that all they knew was that there were "white pills" involved. But ScotusWiki suggests that the tip specifically named ibuprofen. If that is correct then I would agree that the search is unreasonable.

But I can't to use the term "unreasonable" here legally because I don't know the law. Not everything unreasonable is illegal, and not everything legal is reasonable.

DKWalser said...

I'm not in favor of what the school did. However, I also question the wisdom of making a federal case out of this.

There are far better mechanisms for dealing with unreasonable actions by school officials than resorting to the courts to adjudicate whether or not a school employee's actions were reasonable or not. Or, I should say, these far better mechanisms would be available if school employees were not already over-protected from discipline. In our ongoing effort to mandate and enforce absolute fairness in all situations, we have created a bureaucratic mess that requires convening the highest court in the land in order to resolve the smallest of disputes.

By "smallest of disputes" I don't mean to belittle the trauma this young girl may have suffered by being strip searched. Instead, I mean it should have been trivial to resolve the controversy: "You strip searched a girl because you thought she might have some white pills?" "Yes." "Well, you obviously don't have the temperament and judgment required for your position. You're fired (or suspended or assigned to take X training course...)." Instead, no one is empowered to make a binding decision and no one is accountable. We are forced to resolve such matters by laying the question before the courts, which delays resolution, increases costs, and inhibits effective supervision of school employees.

rhhardin said...

It's a contraceptive if held between the knees. At least it works with aspirin.

mcg said...

A good video introduction to the case here. At least the first couple of minutes of it, which is all I've seen so far.

Daryl said...

"provoking laughter when he said that this had happened to him at school"

It's a sad fact that about 40% of all Supreme Court decisions regarding our civil rights come down based on the judges' personal experiences.

Big Mike said...

Back in the 18th century if someone in authority got out of line a group of good and honest citizens would heat up a bucket of tar, grab a couple old feather pillows, and the culprit would quickly learn that he* had stepped over a line.

To my (non-lawyer) eyes strip searching an adolescent female is unreasonable. Souter implies that the girl only suffered "some embarrassment." No, it appears that she needed psychological counseling. Who is going to pay for that if not the people who strip-searched her?

Is there a point at which the Supreme Court will pull back and say "you know, maybe this whole thing has gotten away from the concept of justice and become too much like one big game with no rules"? Just thought I'd ask.

___________________
* I've never heard of a woman being tarred and feathered.

Synova said...

A strip search of a 13 year old girl could well feel like rape.

It's a punishment, and one that would be considered cruel and unusual if it *was* undertaken as a punishment.

Shouldn't there be some need for due process, assumption of innocence, and all that other jazz if the action is sexually traumatic? Only in *that* case, they'd be "torturing" the child and wouldn't be allowed.

Synova said...

Strip searching a child should not be permitted without probable cause that the child is illegally concealing a controlled substance.Probable cause, police and *parents* present.

Pogo said...

Liberty is dead.

We belong to the State.

Even our bodies are not our own.

I for one welcome our new fascist overlords.

Squid said...

If she was hiding the location of a weapons cache or a bomb builder in SW Asia, I'm betting this sort of mistreatment would be cause for demonstrations on the National Mall.

It all depends on what one is suspected of hiding, I guess.

Squid said...

And if that room at the school was insufficiently air-conditioned, all bets are off.

Henry said...

"Better embarrassment [of one student] than the risk of violent sickness and death," Souter said.

To paraphrase P.J. O'Rourke, "Americans would throw out the bill of rights for those kids on milk cartons."

Though I will add that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowing individual school officials to be held liable for damages is disturbing.

This looks like a lose-lose-lose for everyone involved. School officials shouldn't be jackasses. Students should fess up when cornered (did the student refuse to say she had ibuprofen or was she not believed when she did?). Parents shouldn't turn their kids into neurotic grievance machines.

Can't the court just hold that eveyone involved was stupid?

Michael Hasenstab said...

So Freddy, who really wants to take Marcia on a date and gets rebuffed in front of his friends decides he wants revenge.

He suggest to a teacher or administrator that Marcia might have some drugs concealed in her panties or bra.

Marcia gets called in, denies possession of drugs, and is forced to endure a strip search.

How is this a good policy?

Never mind what will happen when Principal Uriah decides he needs to get his batteries charged by peeking at some 16 year old student's titties. It will happen, you know it will.

Revenant said...

Motive is greed, not public good.

If a teacher made my daughter take off all her clothes because she was carrying ibuprofen, I would want to inflict as much pain on that teacher -- and the people who gave the teacher his or her orders -- as possible.

Physical violence is illegal, firing the teacher is impossible, pressing criminal charges isn't going to happen. That leaves suing. Greed has nothing to do with it. It is about teaching people that they can't lay hands on your children without suffering for it.

garage mahal said...

I for one welcome our new fascist overlords.New? You're a little late to the party Rip.

Pogo said...

This is Kelo for the person.

The State can use the power of eminent domain to transfer the right to privacy from oneself to an authority whenever the hell they want it so.

Synova said...

My daughter, of course, has been told that she's got the right to violent self-defense... exactly the same as if it was a boy taking her clothes off against her will.

peter hoh said...

I guess I'm just another liberal weenie, but I believe that students have some rights, and that this student's civil liberties were violated.

chickenlittle said...

I would want to inflict as much pain on that teacher -- and the people who gave the teacher his or her orders -- as possible.

Though I do love it when you get all Torquemada, the weakest link in your argument (your first "--") is that the people who end up paying are not necessarily the "people who gave the teacher his or her orders".

madawaskan said...

I don't get this-

If she was a threat to the other kids and they were sure she had the pills on her person-yet they were afraid of her distributing them-why not simply consider the option of keeping her in the principal's office until her parents could come get her-and perhaps have them aide the school in dealing with the problem?

In effect why not simply quarantine her from the other kids if she was truly a threat to the other kids?

I really don't get it.

madawaskan said...

Instead the only answer they could come up with seems to have been-

Strip Search!

and an abuse of power.

EnigmatiCore said...

We have lost our mind as a society.

Revenant said...

the weakest link in your argument (your first "--") is that the people who end up paying are not necessarily the "people who gave the teacher his or her orders".

Ultimately they are. Education bureaucracies are highly adept at protecting their own, certainly. But if you screw up and make a decision that costs the department a big pile of money, your job WILL suffer for it.

Besides, these policies don't emerge in a vacuum. Everybody from the school board on down plays a part in establishing them and moving the school system towards a position where it, somehow, seems less than insane to make a teenage girl jiggle her boobs in front of you to see if she's carrying legal medication. Bureaucracies don't pay attention to rights or common sense, but they DO pay attention to red ink on their balance sheets.

Jeremy said...

chickenlittle said..."Take away the financial incentive of suing a school district and see where such a case goes."

I understand your point, and in some cases, it certainly pertains, but if we were to remove the "financial incentive" related such cases, people could do damn near anything they want without any form of retribution.

I do wonder what those here, who have 10-13 year olds, would think about this case.

I'm also unclear as to what they actually thought she had or knew she had.

madawaskan said...

I hope I am missing some details of the case and I tried to find a write up of just the simple specifics but I couldn't find it.

Joan said...

According to the ScotusWiki article mcg linked, the standard to be applied was "reasonableness". I would like to hear the principal's argument for why it was reasonable to do this search.

The description in the wiki sounds intimidating but not abusive: Two female aides then took Savana to the school nurse’s office, and conducted a strip search, requiring her to remove all of her outer clothing, and requiring her to expose her breasts and pelvic area by pulling her underclothes away from her body. Again, no pills were found.

"Strip search" evokes images inconsistent with this description IMO. It's easy for me to imagine a shy, quiet girl being traumatized by this event. It's also easy for me to imagine a tough girl telling off the principal and her aides the entire time and inflicting more suffering than she would experience.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I do wonder what those here, who have 10-13 year olds, would think about this case."

I have a 14 year old and a soon-to-be 12 year old.

I think we, as a society, have lost our minds, where we are strip-searching kids for ibuprofen and then arguing over the constitutionality of it rather than unanimously (and harshly) saying the whole concept is just plain wrong and those who thought it up have no business being in positions of power anywhere, for any reason.

EnigmatiCore said...

""Strip search" evokes images inconsistent with this description IMO"

You think this is an appropriate thing to do in a hunt for ibuprofen?

Just...wow.

Freeman Hunt said...

Homeschooling, anyone?

traditionalguy said...

Do you think the Justices will need to resort to International legal precedents here? The Third Reich once found it efficient to tatoo numbers on the arms of the Less than Fully Human people under their authority. Today we can insert tracking devices under everyone's skin. Computers today are able to do what 1940's science failed to do: Protect everybody from cradle to their necessary death. Just wait until The new programs have been written and placed into operation by the Chinese in Tibet. The govenment schools will be in charge like never before.

peter hoh said...

I wonder if anyone will make the argument that this wasn't a real strip search.

Maybe Peggy Noonan will urge us to ignore this injustice with her words of wisdom. "Sometimes in life you want to keep walking… Some of life has to be mysterious."

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Is there anyone out there who doesn't know that GIRLS GET CRAMPS?

OMG.

For some they are like the tortures of hell. I well remember those days. But back then, we were able to keep OTC drugs in our lockers. I did. I don't remember any "violent sickness and death".

You can't zero-tolerance away painful menstruation, folks. I wish you could.

I remember more than once giving my daughter ibuprofen and telling her to jam it down into the very deepest recess of her jeans pocket and not to let a living soul see her take it out and swallow it. By the grace of God she was never caught with it. What are girls supposed to do, throw up in the hallway from pain? Miss two or three days from school every few weeks?

I told my daughter that she was in for culture shock when she went away to college - that she would suddenly be treated like a human being and not a potentially dangerous animal one minute and a heedless toddler the next.

madawaskan said...

OK let's see.....

Don't Taze me Bros I'm only playing devil's advocate-

The pills supposedly were already distributed.

They had some of the pills but they couldn't be sure how many more were out there and what other students had them and when the students would take them.

They felt they were under a time constraint to identify the "drug" and what the potential dangers were.

Somehow strip searching her-for the prescription label on the bottle[?] was imperative.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Madawaskan - and the phones weren't working, no one had a cell, and they couldn't call the parents?

Freeman Hunt said...

The only excuse I can think of for a school to strip search a student without the police or parents present is if the school has good reason to think that a student is a suicide bomber. Other than that, hands off, you bureaucratic pervs.

Revenant said...

I wonder if anyone will make the argument that this wasn't a real strip search.

Someone already has. But why would it matter what you call it? Just compare the details of the search to the alleged need for it, and you can sensibly conclude the search was inappropriate.

The Other Jeremy said...

If good law is made up of our collective morals, this seems like a no brainer. Who could possibly be in favor of strip searching jr high kids for stockpiles of OTC meds? Liberals aren't in favor of anyone being strip searched ever. Conservatives aren't in favor of school administrators doing anything non-education related.

EnigmatiCore said...

Revenant-- may your common sense be contagious. We need an epidemic.

madawaskan said...

Laura-

Well maybe the parents wouldn't know what she had?

There is also this from the article linked in the post by Ann-

For a moment, Justice David H. Souter tried to put himself in the mind of the vice principal who ordered the strip search of Savana Redding. The year before, a middle-school student had become violently ill after taking mysterious pills at school. The official may have feared a repeat.

Jason (the commenter) said...

So they can strip search your daughter, even maybe help her get an abortion, without your consent. But if they take her off school property they need a permission slip?

madawaskan said...

I am just playing the devil's advocate see my initial reaction above.

Like mcg stated the thing that makes me think there is more to the story is that Souter, Kennedy and Scalia all seem headed in the same direction.

madawaskan said...

Jason

I would say to that-

You have the rights of one girl balanced against the under age children.

The number of which is an unkown-"x".

And the potential harm to "x" amount of students also being an unknown.

There I think is the equation.

Perhaps in that balance, the unknowns outweigh the rights of the girl in question?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Madawaskan:

"Ms. X, this is the school office. We think Pansy has a pill hidden in her drawers and we need to look. Do you want to be here for this, or should we go ahead?"

As to the need to identify the pill, if they already had some how was finding one more going to help identify it?

madawaskan said...

Ga!

I should really stop talking out my porthoIe I can't find a better write up of the specifics and damn my hockey game is back from a break.

I'm standing down!

Eric said...

I don't have any kids, and I'm not likely to, at this point. But if I ever do I'm gonna do everything in my power to keep them away from public schools.

Revenant said...

Souter, Kennedy and Scalia all seem headed in the same direction.

Well, Souter feels that well-meaning government officials should never be held accountable and Scalia has never met a basic human right he wasn't willing to sacrifice for the sake of zero-tolerance drug policies. So the responses those two offered aren't terribly surprising.

Jason (the commenter) said...

madawaskan,

The Utilitarian notion that you can calculate your way out of moral problems has been called evil since it was first promulgated. Every dictator who has used the needs of the many as an excuse to harm the few has offered all the proof we need on that point.

Revenant said...

Perhaps in that balance, the unknowns outweigh the rights of the girl in question?

If you have probable cause for believing that a girl is a threat to others then she should be suspended from school or -- if the evidence is compelling -- in police custody. Do we really feel that, between "routine discipline" and "offenses serious enough to warrant suspension", there exists a third category, "offenses for which you can be forced to take off your clothes"? :)

EnigmatiCore said...

"For a moment, Justice David H. Souter tried to put himself in the mind of the vice principal who ordered the strip search of Savana Redding."

This is problem one.

"The year before, a middle-school student had become violently ill after taking mysterious pills at school. The official may have feared a repeat."

Because of... the threat of a lawsuit? I bet that is what it was.

And so, we have the advocates of the rights of the victims being the root cause of creating new victims. They can be the advocates of them, too.

EnigmatiCore said...

"But if I ever do I'm gonna do everything in my power to keep them away from public schools."

Do you really think the Supremes are limiting their scope to public schools?

And do you really think the litigation society is, either?

Kirk Parker said...

"These zero tolerance rules relieve school employees from having to exercise even the most rudimentary level of judgment and common sense."

So doesn't that effectively turn all those positions into entry-level, minimum wage ones?

"Zero tolerance" is a profoundly stupid idea. So is the idea of prohibiting kids from carrying products that are perfectly legal for them to buy at any store.

Laura,

"What are girls supposed to do... Miss two or three days from school every few weeks?"

I had one friend who did exactly that. Of course, back in those Dark Ages, all we had was aspirin (and maybe, perhaps, acetaminophen--my googlefu is extremely weak today and I can't seem to find anything as to when it became available OTC.)

Steven said...

I guess I'm just another liberal weenie, but I believe that students have some rights, and that this student's civil liberties were violated.Oh, yeah, liberals are good rights protectors! Not like those notorious conservatives Breyer and Souter!

Nichevo said...

I envision the conversation going like this:

"Darling, if this ever happens to you in school, tell them, Not till Mommy or Daddy gets here.

If they don't listen, I have four words of advice for you: Go for the eyes.

But don't worry baby, I'll be there in 45 minutes with a lawyer and a gasoline can. Maybe an hour if I get held up in traffic.

Get all their names so Daddy can find out where they live. Especially the little brat who ratted you out.

If you have anything illegal, we'll discuss that when you get home. I hope to God you don't have anything illegal. You wouldn't do that to Mommy and me would you?

Right, so just be discreet with your big-girl pills and this will never come up. Okay sweetie, no go do your homework."

mcg said...

Oh, yeah, liberals are good rights protectors! Not like those notorious conservatives Breyer and Souter!

Again, the question is not whether or not this was appropriate. The question is whether or not it was legal. There are plenty of stupid laws that are constitutional and stupid policies that are lawful.

mcg said...

Quoting myself:

Again, the question is not whether or not this was appropriate.

The reason I say that is because I think we're all pretty much in agreement that this was a dumb move on the school's part.

Skyler said...

"What are girls supposed to do... Miss two or three days from school every few weeks?"

My school board had a policy, I hope to god it's changed, that three absences from any individual class, for any reason, excused or unexcused resulted in a failing grade for the year. It was brutal.

But we also could have aspirin or even our prescription drugs and no one bothered us about it.

I really fear for our nation.

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Wonderful. One more thing to teach the kids before sending them off to "be taught". You are to physically resist any attempts at a bodily search until Mom or Dad or present.

Of course, if you are caught with whatever it is the school thinks you have - aside from something as ridiculous as ibuprofen - God help you. But, I would not stand for this. More power to the parents for pursuing the issue. Can't believe they lost.

madawaskan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madawaskan said...

Jennifer-

I don't think the Supremes have ruled. This looks like the timeline so far-

The 9th Circuit, in a 6-5 decision, reversed that ruling and held that the strip-search violated Redding's constitutional rights.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. suggested during the argument that the suit should go to trial so a jury could decide whether the vice principal's order was reasonable in light of the circumstances.

A ruling in the case of Safford School District vs. Redding is scheduled to be issued by late June.

Peter V. Bella said...

Schools, teachers, principals, and the NEA. Who formed these stupid policies? What party do they support?

Jennifer said...

Well, thank God for that, madawaskan. Here's hoping...

former law student said...

I was hoping someone (Laura) would mention the vital importance of ibuprofen to 13 year old girls. I only know that once you start cramping, even ibuprofen won't help.

Does Mr. Vice Principal really need to know when his students are having their periods?

I agree that the preferred solution would be for the school to return the girl to the custody of a parent.

MadisonMan said...

Zero tolerance is zero thinking.

If this were done to my 13-yo son, he would be beyond mortified (serious shyness). I don't think I can convey to you how furious this would make me.

I'd like to think Madison schools would have the sense to require a parent to be present (and I wouldn't be there to allow the strip search, I'd totally be running interference for my kid if all they had was something I knew about -- ibuprofen). But who really knows.

Joan said...

You think this is an appropriate thing to do in a hunt for ibuprofen?

Don't be daft, of course I don't.

I do think, as I already said, that the term "strip search" conjures up images that don't conform to what happened.

As for contacting the parents: how do you know the administration didn't try? I've some experience in trying to get a hold of parents during school hours, it's often an exercise in frustration.

Also, schools are supposed to have a policy for keeping prescription drugs for the kids in the nurse's office under lock and key, that the kid can have access to when he or she needs it -- I've sent numerous kids to the nurse for their asthma inhalers or to have their blood sugar checked.

ITA with the "but it was just ibuprofen!" response, but that's not the point, is it? The policies don't make exceptions for OTC drugs at prescription strengths. Kids aren't even supposed to have OTC drugs on their persons -- same deal, leave with the nurse and get them from the office as needed.

The search was completely inappropriate, but this case was found in favor of the school in two different courts before it was overturned, and even when the 9th circuit en banc overturned it, the vote was divided. Is it completely inconceivable to everyone here that the school could have an argument that stands up to the "reasonableness" requirement?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"leave with the nurse and get them from the office as needed."

Good luck with that at the school my daughter attended. There were 2000 students, no way would the nurse keep OTC meds like ibuprofen for the kids. I guess the girls were all forced to be scofflaws like my daughter.

Steven said...

mcg —

My point was not on the merits of the case. My point was that Peter Hoh made a knee-jerk ass of himself. Yet again.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

The 2003 search, prompted by a tip from another girl, did not find ibuprofen, which is found in common medications like Advil and Motrin to treat pain like cramps and headaches....

"The self-serving statement of a cornered teenager facing significant punishment does not meet the heavy burden necessary to justify a search accurately described by the 7th Circuit as 'demeaning, dehumanizing, undignified, humiliating, terrifying, unpleasant [and] embarrassing'."And all this to find prescription-strength ibuprofen pills."No legal decision cited to us, or that we could find, permitted a strip search to discover substances regularly available over-the-counter at any convenience store throughout the United States."US school rebuked for ibuprofen strip searchYou know, they tell the kids starting in kindergarten about stranger danger, and scare them half to death about it, and impress upon them that they own their bodies and are not obligated to let anyone touch them inappropriately or make them feel uncomfortable. Major disconnect here.

Big Mike said...

Nobody is answering my question. According to what I read about the case in USA Today the girl has suffered psychologically because of the strip search. While the SCOTUS spends its time trying to find a way to let the school district off the hook, I'd like to know who should pay for the psychological counseling this girl needs if not the school district?

The girl did absolutely nothing wrong, has been seriously traumatized, and yet everybody seems to be shrugging their shoulders.

@Joan, "schools are supposed to" (1) doesn't mean that that school does, nor (2) does it mean that the girl was in violation of the schools' policy. She didn't have the drugs, and there was no reason to suppose that she did have the drugs hidden under her panties.

When does it end, and where?

TMink said...

Big Mike wrote: "Back in the 18th century if someone in authority got out of line a group of good and honest citizens would heat up a bucket of tar, grab a couple old feather pillows, and the culprit would quickly learn that he* had stepped over a line."

My father was born in 1925 in central Louisiana. In first and second grade, he and another boy spent most of their school day on their knees locked in separate closets. Neither boy conplained because they feared worse from their parents for "causing" the woman to punish them in that manner.

The other boy's family found out and that boy's father brought the child to school and told the teacher that he wanted to see her husband there after school. At the appointed hour, the husband and father arrived and the father beat the shit out of the husband.

The abuse stopped immediately.

This would have been 1932 and 33.

Trey

TMink said...

I guess I'm just another dat conservative wingnut, but I believe that students have some rights, and that this student's civil liberties were violated.

And I also agree with Larua at 7:07. You call the parent(s).

That is why they did it their way, the were avoiding the initial conflict with the parent.

Trey

Mark said...

Look, when I see a potential decision that has Breyer and Scalia on the same side, I am motivated to take a second look. That doesn't mean they're right but it does suggest something's up.Yeah, it means libertarians are about to take it hard and deep.

Steven said...

My answer to Justice Kennedy is that it is indeed unreasonable for school officials to strip-search for meth. They're agents of the government, they don't have a warrant, they don't have enough probable cause to get a warrant, there is no imminent danger, and they don't have legal consent for the search (i.e., parental consent).

Absolute textbook violation of the Fourth Amendment, except apparently the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply to you when you're doing a manadtory term in a state correctional facility for the crime of being young.

And, Joan? Requiring everything be locked up in the nurse's office itself is unreasonable nonsense.

Nichevo said...

Joan,

If common sense doesn't work then let's try enlightened self-interest. You need to be more afraid of me than you are of losing your job, which is the least worst thing that will happen to you.

If I don't get there, you can wait until I do. If the bell rings at three and I'm not there, you'd really be better off sending my kid home and trying again tomorrow. Dismissing class. Whatever. Suspend him or send her home or whatever and that can all be worked out.

I'm just telling you that you will pay a higher price for putting hands on my child, against his or her will, than it could ever be worth to you. The danger is, you see, that I will permanently alter your life and the lives of those around you, before you can explain to me how "it wasn't really a strip search, it was a blahblahblah."

I meant it about the gasoline can. I have a gasoline can in the car. The lawyer is an afterthought. Be happy if I remember the lawyer.

If you have a health or safety problem with my child you take the necessary steps. You just imagine that you are "taking the necessary steps" with the Queen of England, treat her accordingly, and I'm sure we'll all get along.

Honestly, I would suggest you just ask my child what he or she is carrying. That would not only be safer but if I have done my job as a parent, you will get an honest answer.

"Nothing that need concern you, ma'am" is an honest answer, of course, if it is something I have authorized the child to have. "I'd like to speak to my parent (or a lawyer, I suppose) before answering that" is, too.

Now I understand that you will have problem kids who are bad to very bad and who have to be dealt with. For your problem kids break out the hose, whatever. My kids will not be those.

Don't get married to some quaint notion of fairness that means you have to treat everybody equally. You just have to treat me and mine well.

Then everybody will be happy and you won't wake up in the night with your house or your spouse on fire.

...

My views on foreign affairs are somewhat similar.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

I think the appropriate thing to do was to ask the person, the kid, what they had and perhaps ask them to leave urine in a cup for drug screen which investigation might also be done the next day also. That's my idea of invasive. Strip search I can't imagine; Ann would get arrested for child pornography if she came up with a Youtube example of it.

Joan said...

First, let me assure you that the middle school in Safford, AZ does not have 2,000 students, it has 400. At my school we have about 500-600 students and use the system I described for managing both OTC and prescription drugs for the student body. It works. Does SMS have a similar policy? Probably. My point in bringing it up is that there most likely is a mechanism whereby kids can get the meds they need during the day.

Apparently, the fact that I'm willing to discuss the surrounding conditions and events rather than just issue blanket condemnations and spin revenge fantasies means I'm on the same page as the principal. I wonder about the reading comprehension here (Nichevo?), along with wondering why the case ever reached this far if it's the slam-dunk everyone here is treating it as.

Just so everyone is clear on this: The student should not have been searched. The principal was wrong to order the search, the aides were wrong in conducting it.

I'd like to believe that the majority of judges looking at this case are not morons, but that seems to be the only conclusion we're left with.

Nichevo said...

Joan, you lash out because you're afraid. That's all right, I understand. In fact, mission accomplished. Oderint dum metuant, teach...

Too bad nobody at this school had any such notion of their own limitations. What could have been going through their heads? You still haven't quite made me grok that, Joan. How did they think this was a good idea?

Obviously the student was white - as the issue was never raised - was she in some other way vulnerable? Was she a nerd? Poor parents or poor PTA attendance? How did they imagine getting away with it?

Speaking of revenge fantasies, perhaps I should criticize your word choice, because I was describing preventative measures, trying to avoid this happening. In a situation where this had already happened...ohohohohoho.

hdhouse said...

For crying out loud, has that school system ever heard of water boarding?

Sure can't blame our students for lacking common sense when the school administrators have none.

peter hoh said...

Steven @ 10:14, what part of my 5:42 comment was knee-jerk?

It is possible to agree that the student's rights were violated whether one is (or is considered to be) a liberal or conservative. It's not always about partisanship.

My statement was merely about my opinion on the case. Did you really take it as a slam against conservatives?

Most likely, conservatives and liberals on the court will join together to decide the case in a way that will piss off many liberals and many conservatives.

I was getting ready to sing Kumbaya, what with Revenant and I agreeing on this. Rev puts it very well in his 7:23:

Souter feels that well-meaning government officials should never be held accountable and Scalia has never met a basic human right he wasn't willing to sacrifice for the sake of zero-tolerance drug policies.

mrs whatsit said...

I am not grasping why a strip-search of a 13-year-old at school would EVER be permissible (and I'm a lawyer, not to mention a former school board member.) Yeah yeah, I know, I've read the cases, the kids surrender some of their rights at the school door because of the school's need to maintain discipline, yada yada. But we are talking about a strip search of a child. Ye Gods. Maybe if they had good reason to think she had a loaded weapon, but short of that, if they thought she had a "white pill" on her person and she wouldn't give it up, then call her parents, call the police, call somebody, but leave the child's clothes on, for pity's sake. What was the NEED to justify taking that action? She could hardly give it to some other kid once they had her in the principal's office. Everyone in the situation seems to have lost perspective. n

mrs whatsit said...

And furthermore, that school probably has a sexual-harassment policy by which, had a teacher or a classmate merely touched the girl or mentioned her underwear, they'd be in for hell on earth. But now, they get to peer down her underpants without her consent, just because they think she might have a pill down there?

Okay, I'm going to go calm down now. But, had some school administrator tried this with MY daughter (who, yes, sometimes smuggled a little verboten OTC medication into school with her, because yes, girls do get cramps, and soccer players get sore muscles, and anybody can get a headache) calming down would not be anywhere on my agenda.

Pogo said...

More proof we are not citizens but subjects.

mcg said...

The girl did absolutely nothing wrongJust to be clear, this is not the case. She admitted to some of the things she was accused of doing. That was one of the pieces of evidence the school used to claim probable cause or whatever it is they thought they had.

Robert Cook said...

"I for one welcome our new fascist overlords."

They're not new.

Robert Cook said...

"I guess I'm just another dat conservative wingnut, but I believe that students have some rights, and that this student's civil liberties were violated."

This is a classic liberal position! Congratulations!

Joseph Hovsep said...

The idea of "extra-strength" over-the-counter medication always cracks me up. There are a certain number of milligrams per pill. So, if you want "extra-strength" just take more pills.

Kirk Parker said...

Joseph,

Careful, dude--that concept is not limited to OTC drugs! I think you just tossed the whole rationale (not that there really was one) for the Oxycontin hysteria right out the window...

Joseph Hovsep said...

Well I limit it to OTC products because its mainly a function of marketing to casual shoppers looking for something for their headache.

I just object to the characterization of the 13-year-old girl hiding not just "regular" ibuprofin, but "extra strength" ibuprofin, as though there really is such a thing.

TMink said...

Robert wrote: "This is a classic liberal position! Congratulations!"

I would say that it is a classic American position, but why quibble. I have other libertarian or liberal leanings as well: legalizing marijuana, changing our relationship with Cuba, that sort of thing.

But then my belief that abortion is murder and the fed needs to abolish the Department of Education rears its ugly head and I must be thrown out as an incorigable conservative.

But thanks for noticing! Robert, what are your conservative ideas?

Trey

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"The girl did absolutely nothing wrongJust to be clear, this is not the case. She admitted to some of the things she was accused of doing."

Unless the things involved holding contraband or hiding it in her underwear, this is irrelevant.

mcg said...

Unless the things involved holding contraband or hiding it in her underwear, this is irrelevant.

Actually, it did involve contraband. I recommend the video link I posted above for details.

Again I'm not condoning the strip search. But to say "she did nothing wrong", that the school had no reason to administer any consequences, isn't true. The problem here is one of overreach not random sadism.

Shanna said...

Is there anyone out there who doesn't know that GIRLS GET CRAMPS?I’m late to the party but DAMN STRAIGHT! If anyone tried to take away my Aleve in high school I would have cut them.

My high school history teacher had a handy way of dealing with students who needed to borrow some aspirin. She would say “I’m not allowed to give you this due to school policy” while opening her drawer and looking out the window.

High school administrators are completely idiots. Most of them at my hs were coaches who needed something to do when they weren't coaching.

former law student said...

Actually, it did involve contraband. I recommend the video link I posted above for details.

Again I'm not condoning the strip search. But to say "she did nothing wrong", that the school had no reason to administer any consequences, isn't true. The problem here is one of overreach not random sadism
The Cato Institute's amicus brief presents the facts quite differently. A girl Marissa was found to have pills and a razor blade (the apparent contraband) concealed in a dayplanner. When questioned, she ratted out the plaintiff. While the plaintiff apparently did give her the dayplanner, there is no proof it contained pills or razorblade at the time she handed it to Marissa.

No more contraband was found from a search of Marissa's underwear, making a search of the plaintiff's underwear even less reasonable.

I'm disturbed that all it takes for school administrators to strip search a pubescent girl is the unsupported accusation of a kid caught red-handed.

Alcuria said...

"Besides, these policies don't emerge in a vacuum. Everybody from the school board on down plays a part in establishing them and moving the school system towards a position where it, somehow, seems less than insane to make a teenage girl jiggle her boobs in front of you to see if she's carrying legal medication."

Disclosure: I serve on a couple of school boards.

From what I can gather, there was no school policy in regards to strip searching students, nor a regulation or rule that is driven by such a policy. If indeed true, that's a serious failure on the part of the school board who as a governance body, sets policy for the school district.

I understand the need to ensure that children have a safe learning environment which includes addressing substance abuse issues. But a strip search? That creates an oppressive learning environment. I cannot think of any issue or danger that requires school administrators to strip search a student.

I read our relevant District policies yesterday to confirm strip searches are not part of official District policy, and at our meeting tonight make sure that the Board consensus is no strip searches - period - and that Administration knows this.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Savana's mother, whom Savana had not been permitted to call before or during the strip search..."

Dang, yo. Hard to see how the school could explain or excuse this, if true.

Cato Institute

mcg said...

Thanks for the Cato links, y'all. The more information I accumulate the more disturbing this gets.

Nichevo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nichevo said...

Actually, for the record, I have a mother. No, what I mean to say is, I discussed this with my mother today; she had heard of the case, she was physically sickened by the news, and - I am very proud of this - she said, these are her words, that she would have gouged their eyes out.

So it's not just me; or at least it runs in the family.

On the bright side, if this is in fact legal behavior, it opens the door to an epic new porn genre. Can't wait for SMS 2: Teen Cavity Search. We'll solve the national debt with the pay-per-view.

kentuckyliz said...

In my county, high school students who drive to school and/or are in sports and/or are in student organizations must consent to random drug testing.

Thus training them to accept government invasions of their privacy and pee as if a serf to the state. Note--no grounds of suspicion, no probable cause.

I don't have kids but if I did I'd engage a lawyer to deny parental consent to this, and to forbid it from happening, upon pain of some pretty serious consequences.

If the school still insisted on drug testing my kid, goodbye public school. Straight to GED and college.

My kid is not an inmate!

Girls don't want to keep their cramp meds with the school nurse, because then EVERYBODY would know their business when they had to go to the nurse's office to take their meds. It doesn't respect their modesty and privacy.

High school kids distribute club drugs inside the barrels of ballpoint pens and wrapped up inside Tootsie Rolls. Be on the lookout for the kid giving away pens or tootsies.

Just say NO to slavery!!!

This is sickening.

Gordonl said...

Does anyone know who has been and is paying the legal cost for redding in all of this litigation ? It has got to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.