Thirteen-year-old Savana Redding of Safford, Arizona, was strip searched by middle school administrators, on a tip from another student who claimed she had contraband Advil hidden in her bra. Her lawyer argued to the Supreme Court this week that school officials violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches. School officials didn’t bother to search her desk or locker, or even question additional students before they made her strip down to her skivvies.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer revealed himself to be less than equipped to hear the case. From Dahlia Lithwick’s great Slate piece on the topic:
“In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, OK? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear.”
Shocked silence, followed by explosive laughter. In fact, I have never seen Justice Clarence Thomas laugh harder. Breyer tries to recover: “Or not my underwear. Whatever. Whatever. I was the one who did it? I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think it’s beyond human experience.”
Wow, so your history of bullying now constitutes legal or moral precedent? I’m sorry, did I miss a shift in our legal justice system by which judge’s adolescent hijinks were sound juris prudence? It gets even more bizarre…
By now, even Justice David Souter has ditched Wolf, musing that if he were the principal in a school, he “would rather have the kid embarrassed by a strip search … than have some other kids dead because the stuff is distributed at lunchtime and things go awry.”
Dead? By a couple of Advil?
The combination of disregard for young women’s bodily integrity with total hyperbole about the potential effects of a couple of Ibuprofen is infuriating. Students deserve the same rights as their oh-so-adult counterparts, regardless of and, hell, especially because they are subjected to the horrors of the adolescent locker room.
Thanks to Annasara for the heads up.