The Chicago Sun Times carried this Associated Press article, Supreme Court: Strip searches OK .
Jailers may perform invasive strip searches on people arrested even for minor offenses, an ideologically divided Supreme Court ruled Monday, the conservative majority declaring that security trumps privacy in an often dangerous environment.
In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled against a New Jersey man who was strip searched in two county jails following his arrest on a warrant for an unpaid fine that he had, in reality, paid.
In their infinite wisdom what the Supreme Court “conservatives” may be telling us is that it would be outrageous for the government to insist that we stop bankrupting the country with emergency room visits and insist we buy health insurance, but suspects of minor, non-criminal offenses can be strip searched.
The “moderate” justice Anthony Kennedy, had this sagacious comment:
Justice Anthony Kennedy said the circumstances of the arrest were of little importance. Instead, Kennedy said, Florence’s entry into the general jail population gave guards the authorization to force him to strip naked and expose his mouth, nose, ears and genitals to a visual search in case he was hiding anything.
“Courts must defer to the judgment of correctional officials unless the record contains substantial evidence showing their policies are an unnecessary or unjustified response to problems of jail security,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy gave three reasons to justify routine searches — detecting lice and contagious infections, looking for tattoos and other evidence of gang membership and preventing smuggling of drugs and weapons.
What was Justice Stephen Breyer thinking, when he opined:
In his dissent, Breyer said inmates in the two New Jersey jails already have to submit to pat-down searches, pass through metal detectors, shower with delousing agents and have their clothing searched.
Certainly pat-down searches, passing through metal detectors, showering with delousing agents and having their clothing searched is not nearly demeaning enough for people suspected of a minor non-criminal offense.
It is almost worth it to coin a new Greenberg’s Law of Conservatives and Liberals. Conservatives say that you can doing anything you want to my body as long as you leave my money alone. Liberals say you can do what you want with my money, but don’t touch my junk.
OK, here is the rest of the story. The suspect in question was actually guilty of the heinous crime of being a passenger in a vehicle while black.