Teach Your Children Well

Shake, rattle, roll.Back in 2003, while we were attempting the Guinness World Record for waterboarding, 13-year-old Savana Redding was strip-searched at her school in Safford, Arizona, on orders from the vice principal.

And in Supreme Court arguments Tuesday, the link between the two was implicit and chilling.

Redding, an eighth-grade honor student, was suspected of carrying drugs. The suspicion arose after a friend was caught with prescription pills, and said Redding had supplied them. On that basis and no other, the following happened:

Officials then pulled Savana out of class to be questioned and, eventually, strip-searched. During the search, two female officials made Savana remove her shoes, socks, pants, and shirt. She was then told to shake her bra and underpants and move them aside to reveal any hidden pills. None were found.

Redding never returned to the school. She later developed bleeding ulcers.

School district lawyer Matthew Wright said the search was justified because of an incident a year earlier, when a student almost died after adversely reacting to a pill smuggled by someone else, as the Christian Science Monitor reports:

Mr. Wright countered that school officials are charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the health and safety of their students. He said administrators faced with murky reports of a threat to the students must be able to respond quickly and with flexibility to try to get to the truth.

Antonin Scalia suggested that the absence of evidence was sufficiently incriminating to merit enhanced interrogation:

“You search in the student’s pack, you search the student’s outer garments, and you have a reasonable suspicion that the student has drugs,” he said. “Don’t you have, after conducting all these other searches, a reasonable suspicion that she has drugs in her underpants?”

“You’ve searched everywhere else,” Justice Scalia said. “By God, the drugs must be in her underpants.”

Or worse. Lawyer Wright argued that nothing in the law prevented the school officials from taking a look up Redding’s ass, except for the practical matter that they weren’t trained in anal investigation methods.

Meanwhile, David Souter questioned whether the strip-search was all that intrusive in the light of clear and present danger:

“My thought process is I would rather have the kid embarrassed by a strip search, if we can’t find anything short of that, than to have some other kids dead because the stuff is distributed at lunchtime and things go awry.”

So there you have it: All the familiar arguments advocating torture, applied here to a 13-year-old girl. Perhaps, as Peggy Noonan instructs, some of life has to be mysterious.

Oh, and the drug they were looking for? Ibuprofen.

Court Debates Strip Search of Student [NYT]

Supreme Court hears case of strip-searched schoolgirl [CS Monitor]

33 Comments

Wow, Scalia’s logic is just stunning: the more innocent you appear, the more guilty you must be.

This reminds me of those neocons who responded to the absence of WMDs in Iraq by calling for an invasion of Syria because… well, the absence of WMDs in Iraq was prima facie evidence that they had been moved to Syria.

“Please to meet you, do you know my name?”

Antonin Torquemada?

Souter?!? Souter said that? Oh fuck. We are so going to lose if fucking Souter said that. Scalia is such a fuck he’s not worth wasting breath over him.

Whatever happened to “schoolchildren do not shed their Constitutional rights when they enter the schoolhouse door”? Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. School Dist. (1969)? I guess this just means all of us could be strip-searched for ibuprofen.

Given this court, not surprising. John Roberts pulled off feats of logical gymnastics to justify the Juneau high school suspending the kid for the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” sign held up off-campus as somehow being related to the school’s interest in stopping the scourge of drugs. Note: this case was decided when Talibunny was Governor, yet she couldn’t even name this one when interviewed. Morse v. Frederick (2007).

The drugs! ZOMFG!

Meanwhile, the 9th Circuit opinion in the Redding case is awesome. Too bad it’s going to be overturned. Here’s a little tidbit to get your morning going:

We conclude the strip search was not reasonably related to the
search for ibuprofen, as the most logical places where the pills
might have been found had already been searched to no avail,
and no information pointed to the conclusion that the pills
were hidden under her panties or bra (or that Savana’s class-
mates would be willing to ingest pills previously stored in her
underwear). Common sense informs us that directing a
thirteen-year-old girl to remove her clothes, partially reveal-
ing her breasts and pelvic area, for allegedly possessing ibu-
profen, an infraction that poses an imminent danger to no one,
and which could be handled by keeping her in the principal’s
office until a parent arrived or simply sending her home, was
excessively intrusive.
Along with our sister circuits, we have long recognized
the psychological trauma intrinsic to a strip search. “The feel-
ings of humiliation and degradation associated with forcibly
exposing one’s nude body to strangers for visual inspection is
beyond dispute.” Thompson v. City of Los Angeles, 885 F.2d
1439, 1446 (9th Cir. 1989) (challenging a strip search of an
adult after arrest for grand-theft auto).
….That Savana’s search took place in
a nurse’s office in front of two women does not remove the sting of the procedure. See Hunter v. Auger, 672 F.2d 668,
674 (8th Cir. 1982) (“Indeed, a strip search, regardless how
professionally and courteously conducted, is an embarrassing
and humiliating experience.”).
These concerns, pressing and legitimate when strip
searches are conducted on adults in prison, are magnified
when strip searches are performed on schoolchildren.

ADD: Hidden linky not working. 9th circuit opinion is here:
http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2008/07/11/0515759.pdf

ADD: Holy Fucking Shit, even Breyer thinks it’s okay to strip search for ibuprofen. Breyer?!

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a swing vote on many issues, has voted regularly to give police and school officials greater leeway to search for drugs.

“Is the nature of drug irrelevant?” he asked. What if “there is a very dangerous drug — meth — that’s going to be distributed that afternoon?”

He asked whether a search in that instance would be reasonable.

No, Wolf replied. There was no reason to think a 13-year-old honor student had pills in her underwear, he said.

That reply did not appear to persuade Justice Stephen G. Breyer. It is “a logical thing” for adolescents to hide things. “They will stick them in their underwear,” he said.

/headsmash on desk

Okay, two more things and then I’ll stop ranting about this. Gawd, it pisses me off.

(1) Don’t forget the other punchline of this story – nothing was found.

(2) I wonder if this will be an 8-1 opinion, with the only female on the Court dissenting. The 9th Circuit en banc opinion was written by a woman.

Okay I lied, one more thing:

(3) Many states – as a result of litigation, but not always – prohibit blanket policies of strip searches of adults and children who have been arrested and brought to a jail/juvenile hall unless there is probable cause that there is a weapon or illegal drug concealed. And an uncorroborated tip from somebody who is in trouble is not cause enough.

I am the least lawyerly of the lot here, but this case has left me stoopid with anger. Scalia seems to be arguing “she looks innocent, therefore we’ll presume she’s guilty until proven otherwise.” Isn’t that totally ass backwards of how the system is supposed to work?

It’s most distressing that the action was taken based on the word of a student actually found with meds. That student obviously looked around, singled out the squeakiest clean girl in the student body and said “she gave it to me” to get the hounds off the trail.

Yes, but it was prescription strength ibuprofen, and everybody knows that’s a gateway drug.

@blogenfreude: When I was in high school, the honor students had the best drugs. But, hiding them in your underwear? Gah.

@Dodgerblue:

Actually, the idea of smoking a joint that’s been hiding in a hot girl’s panties gives me a woodie.

Am I a bad person for this?

@Serolf Divad: Am I a bad person for this?
Uma Thurman? No.
13 y.o. girl? Yes.

After studying our recent history, I’m convinced now more than ever that Bill Clinton’s penis was the magic wand that turned this nation insane on January 17, 1998.

We must create a time machine and travel back to November 15, 1995, in order to prevent Monica Lewinsky’s first seshal encounter with Slick Willie; it’s the only way to stop this krazee train.

SanFranLefty: Souter’s gonna lose his New Hampshaaah privileges if he keeps this up.

Yes, yes — there was no explicit rule saying that schools cannot strip search teenagers. There is also no explicit rule saying that I must hate the Yankees. And yet I hate the Yankees anyways. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.

Sandra Day O’Connor should unretire. She would take the other justices downtown at the conference. “‘Unreasonable search’ has to mean something, you motherfuckers,” she’d say. Srsly.

@blogenfreude: Prescription strength ibuprofen being the equivalent of three advils. Jesus.
So had Stevens and Ginsberg been bound and gagged? Did they say anything? anything? I’d like to believe that the whole court hasn’t gone insane.

ADD: Wasn’t Scalia’s daughter arrested for DUI of prescription drugs, with her small children in the car? Was she strip searched? Sent to jail? Anything?

@chicago bureau: Sandra is looking pretty damned good in retrospect, yes?

These fundie catholics are bad fucking news. It started with Scalia, then Roberts, and then Alito, the republicans find a nice fundie catholic whenever they want to put someone on the court. Fundie catholics are less obvious than fundie protestants, have better credentials, and they play the reverse bigotry card very well, too. These Opus Dei types have become the go-to for the republicans.

People have to wake up to these fucking people, when it comes to fundamental compassion for other people, they are bigger pricks than your snake handlers and gospel believing pentacostalists. They are very authoritarian, they have an infallible king, for shit’s sake. There is a fucking mean mercilessness to many of these fundie catholics, they see in black and white and the jesuits have taught them how to use subtle sophistry to justify anything, even how to blame the victims for priestly pedophilia. In the end they support theocracy, and they have no problem with crusades, and “killing them all and letting god sort them out,” because they think you are supposed to be miserable in this life.

They are twisted fucks. They suck.

//”Uplifting” TJ//

The highest court in the land endorsing strip searches for 13 year olds to look for harmless, phantom drugs? De-pres-sing. Instead, let’s all read about how the friendly skies just got friendlier for our furry babehs! Maybe soon they’ll have a Tel Aviv hub for Baked!

@flippin eck:
So if I wear a furry costume, call myself Muffy and travel in a cage then I can fly to LA from NY for $149? Woof woof!

@Dodgerblue: Sandy-baby gave us George W. Bush. Anybody with a room temperature IQ could have predicted that her vote was a staggeringly bad idea. Sandra Day O’Connor should hang her head in shame.
I’d also point out that the justices often play good cop bad cop. I’m guessing they rule the search unconstitutional 5-4. But I could be wrong.

Its so long ago now, I guess its old news, but I actually find this case less shocking than the one that said random drug tests of high school students are justified if they engage in sports.

like, huh? Sport nullifies the 4th amendment? And I recall the decision, the opinion said something about the need to preserve the sanctity of the game of football justified mandatory random blood tests, could there be anything more absurd? Like sport is a sacred, religious thing, so important, so worshipped, that civil rights are as nothing against the “sanctity” of the game?

Fucking insane. We are habituating young people, indoctrinating them, into a militarized police state society, with lockdowns, random drug tests, strip searches, dogs, armed policemen in the halls, metal detectors. All of these things are frightening on their own, to think that the students in an average high school are subject to all of them is horrifying. That they will go through life thinking this is normal and acceptable is saddening.

@flippin eck: I carried our pet cat around the world for thirteen years, and only once in at least ten plane trips did she have to go cargo. Some of those were even US carriers, and the fee varied from $50 to $100. The best was when I had her with me in business class for eight hours, I got extra special attention from the flight attendants (not a US carrier, so they were cute) and fresh nibbles for the cat.

But I can see how this would be great for medium and large size animals.

The ugly ugly ugliness of Cheney, Rummy, and Bush is really starting to get noticed. Kos has a story about a McClatchy news story which quotes a Guantanamo Army officer described as “senior,” apparently a psychologist who was involved in the torture, who says that the persistent spasm of torture in the summer of 2002 against the two “high level” prisoners was all about trying to justify the invasion of Iraq. It says defense and the white house would simply reject any results which denied a link between al queada and Iraq, and would demand that the interrogations get harsher and continue until they confirmed Chalabi’s bullshit stories. Thats why they waterboarded the one guy 160 times in one month.

@Prommie: That’s why Darth wants the memos with the “results” released; he knows that some hack wrote a one pager after the 183rd waterboarding session with all of the positive links DoD and POTUS were looking for.

flippin eck: At first blush, I didn’t know whether to be happy or revolted (w/r/t conspicuous excess). Visions of mood music and dog runs in the sky with old-school flight attendants throwing balls every which way and issuing heartfelt “you’re a good boy yesyouareyesyouareyesyouare” to the pampered pets. Pet nirvana — but only for those who could pay.

But it seems rather sensible, on further inspection. So a tentative thumbs-up (until the inevitable shocking expose showing this crew to be nothing but a second-rate operation with practices that would make a pet store blush).

TJ: the Beeb is reporting that the CFO of Freddie Mac has killed himself.

@Mistress Cynica: Only been there 6 months. May not have been used to the virulence of press attention and criticism, he’s been under attack for his bonus.

@Mistress Cynica:

Lotsa suicides in interesting places of late. I see the sinister hand of the shadow government, but, you know, I am a loony toon…

@SanFranLefty: You know what happened to kids at my school if we got fingered for doing something like that but the principal couldn’t find telltale evidence in our locker?

WE GOT SENT THE FUCK HOME THAT DAY!

How did this simple little idea not cross anyone’s mind?

@flippin eck: Speaking of furry babies, I thought of you last evening when I was taking a walk in my neightborhood. Two big, beautiful (obviously pet) rabbits (one white with black spont, the other with coloring like a Siamese cat, if that makes sense) were out playing–unsupervised–in front of one house, nibbling on dandelion greens. They looked very happy.

@Jamie Sommers: If it isn’t, they’ve fooled even the Great Beeb!

@Mistress Cynica: Fresh dandelions are definitely near the top of bunnies’ treat list! But if the bunnies were unattended, they may have been pets who were dumped outside, which is not a good thing for them. If you go down that street again and see them out and about without a human slave nearby, you may want to alert these guys. Pet rabbits are not equipped to make it in the wild and can starve or be killed.

@Prommie: “We are habituating young people, indoctrinating them, into a militarized police state society, with lockdowns, random drug tests, strip searches, dogs, armed policemen in the halls, metal detectors.”

Yes we are. Did you know that the U.S. is the only country that sentences juveniles to life without parole? That there are 2,500 people locked up in the United States for the rest of their lives for crimes they committed as juveniles, some as young as 11 or 12? That many of these people were convicted on felony murder charges? (For the non-attorneys: that’s when a murder occurs in the commission of a felony – so these kids aren’t the ones pulling the trigger during the robbery – or even more insane, they’re getting the sentence when the cops kill their buddies). Oh, and that the racial disparity of juvenile life without parole sentences is 10 black kids for every 1 white kid. Some states it’s 20:1.

@Jamie Sommers: And you know what they did at my school when a couple kids got in a fight? Call the parents, and send them home for a couple of days. And the funny thing is? In the ’90s, when all the tough-on-kids “OMFG we have juvenile superpredators” legislation was passed around the country, the juvenile crime rate dropped. And every juvenile public defender and a lot of juvenile DAs have told me that if these same “Zero Tolerance” tough-on-kids policies were in place in the ’70s or ’80s, we’d all be labeled as delinquents. I’ve heard of schools reporting kids for assault for throwing a wadded up paper ball at another kid.

@flippin eck: I was a little concerned about them. They looked fat and sleek and cared for, but I personally found it irresponsible to leave such defenseless creatures in an unsecure area all alone.

@SanFranLefty: Our prison industry has way too much sway. And the whole “three-strikes-you’re-out” mentality is tragic.

Just the fact that we imprison more of our population than even China should be a cause for concern.

The racial bigotry inherent in the rates of arrests and sentencing is just icing on the cake of injustice.

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