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Anyone Can Be Strip Searched, Supreme Court Rules

Anyone Can Be Strip Searched, Supreme Court Rules


No offense is too small for police officers to conduct a strip search, the Supreme Court ruled today. “Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. The case sets a new precedent on the 4th Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches.

The vote was 5-4, split along the usual partisan divide of the court. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer stated that strip searches should only be conducted when there is a reasonable justification for one, calling the ruling “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy.”

The specific case the Supreme Court examined stemmed from a 2005 arrest of New Jersey resident Albert W. Florence. Florence was a passenger in a car pulled over for speeding when an officer found an outstanding warrant for him. It was later discovered to be an erroneous warrant because the fine had in fact been paid. Moreover, a failure to pay a fine is not considered criminal in the state anyway.

During his week in jail, Florence was subject to strip searches on two occasions. “It was humiliating,” Florence said. “It made me feel less than a man.”

In support of the decision, Justice Kennedy remarked that the Supreme Court should not infringe on police officers’ ability to do the job they see fit. He added, “People detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals.”

On the other hand, Justice Breyer cited a study that demonstrated that less invasive forms of searches were almost entirely successful at finding contraband on prisoners. Breyer also referenced previous cases where individuals were degraded with a strip search after being arrested for such petty crimes as not using a turn signal in a car and riding a bike without a bell.

Though this matter has bounced around federal appeals courts for a while, most of the previous judges believed such searches were only appropriate following a reasonable suspicion. Prior to today’s decision, federal authorities had stricter policies on when they could perform strip searches. On a state level, 10 states currently ban unwarranted strip searches.

As it now stands, however, police officers will have the authority to strip search any individuals they arrest, with or without due cause.

Related Stories:

Strip Searches for Minor Offenses?

Cross-Sex Strip Searches Ruled Unconstitutional

Strip Searching in School?

Read more: , , , ,

AP Photo of Albert W. Florence, right, and his attorney Susan Chana Lask by Mel Evans, File

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12:52PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

welcome to the police state! Now, bend over and spread them wide.

11:17PM PDT on Apr 14, 2012


I spent a couple hours reading the SC transcripts of the case. Even Scalia's words made no sense in context unless a few sneers were thrown in.

As I understood it, YOU CANNOT SUE for damages if you are hurt by a cop or a guard unless you can PROVE that it was done with malice and you didn't provoke it. LOLOL!! Good Luck on that Sh*t!

But the worst part is the damned privatized prisons!! They all have their own rules about searches that range from a ten foot away visual inspection of you in the nude to being sprayed down and having gloved hands invading your body passages, being held down if THEY deem it necessary. We - the Community - no longer have any control.

The rich have bought our police; that much is clear. Now they want our politicians and by extension, our military. Once they have that, we the people, are dead.

I was a loyal Obama supporter. Sumofabitch can rot in hell now for all I care. I hope Malia forgets her drivers' license when she's of age and has to go through this!
And they do arrest you for minor offenses. These jails now have stock-holders to please and you can't bill the state to excess unless you lock up more and more "criminals".

4:44PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

MD L. ---- For Real. It's just law after law after law. Many, many which are against the Constitution. To quote Rage Against the Machine, "Freedom? Whoever told you that is your enemy."

11:56AM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

Yes John C. This court will probably be as infamous as the Dred Scott case one. The thing is, if the current House majority and the current Supreme Court have their way, no one will know about any of this.
History is written by the winners so, if our democracy dies, no one after our generation will know about Dred Scott either.

9:54AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

Now they can strip search you on trumped up suspician and because you have no clothes on they prosecute you for indecent exposure and register you as a sex offender.

5:42AM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

POLITICS AT WORK AGAIN ! the "ROBERTS" court will go down in history,
as one of politically prejudice (favoring the GOP and it's ideology) and tearing
down "WE THE PEOPLE' and their rights under the constitution. this is one
of the most activist judical benches in history. they apply their own premise
and not constitutional law for rendering their own decisions.
Neither the Supreme Court nor any other branch in government should have
such unlimited power, they should have term limits and forced retirement
ages. i understand their power is limited only Congress can overturn any of
their decisions by a two thirds majority - when was that last done ??.

5:38AM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

We are circling the toilet bowl rather quickly, my friends....

Anyone have a life boat?

4:42AM PDT on Apr 5, 2012


4:31AM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

You are starting to find out just how exceptional this country is. As the going gets tough your freedoms crumble. The right only wants big government when it infringes on your rights.

4:31AM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

Don't you feel free, living in the grand Democracy of the US?

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