The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the strip search of a 13-year-old schoolgirl violated the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
In a closely watched case filled with poignant facts, the court ruled 8-1 that Arizona school officials violated student Savana Redding's Fourth Amendment rights when they searched her down to her bra and underpants. Officials were looking for pain relievers, which they didn't find.
"The content of the suspicion failed to match the degree of intrusion," Justice David Souter wrote for the majority.
The ruling involving Redding, who's now a college student, has been anticipated by schools nationwide, which must balance concerns about student privacy with adult fears of drug abuse and school violence.
And guess who the lone hold out was on the court? Clarence Thomas.
Justice Clarence Thomas was the only member of the court to decide that the search of Redding was reasonable.
The court divided more closely, though, on whether the individual school officials who oversaw the search should be liable for damages. While seven members agreed that the officials were immune from lawsuits, Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg contended that the school's assistant principal, Kerry Wilson, should be held liable.
"Wilson's treatment of Redding was abusive and it was not reasonable for him to believe that the law permitted it," said Ginsburg, the court's only female member.
In light of two controversial 5-4 Supreme Court decisions this week, Matt is reminded of Jeffrey Toobin's point that "In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff."...read on