The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.
Here’s the case that was brought to the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court case arose from the arrest of Albert W. Florence in New Jersey in 2005. Mr. Florence was in the passenger seat of his BMW when a state trooper pulled his wife, April, over for speeding. A records search revealed an outstanding warrant based on an unpaid fine. (The information was wrong; the fine had been paid.)
Mr. Florence was held for a week in jails in two counties, and he was strip-searched twice. There is some dispute about the details but general agreement that he was made to stand naked in front of a guard who required him to move intimate parts of his body. The guards did not touch him.
“Turn around,” Mr. Florence, in an interview last year, recalled being told by jail officials. “Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.”
“I consider myself a man’s man,” said Mr. Florence, a finance executive for a car dealership. “Six-three. Big guy. It was humiliating. It made me feel less than a man.”
The question before the courts was whether routine strip searches of all inmates — as opposed to strip searches just in cases of suspected contraband — constituted an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. Alas, the court decided that the routine searches were fine and dandy… and yes, that means strip searches for people merely accused of petty offenses.
I wonder: If it’s “reasonable” to be repeatedly forced to expose your private orifices to corrections officers, even before you’re ever convicted of the most petty of offenses, then what would possibly count as “unreasonable”? Nothing, I suspect.
(Hat Tip: The Agitator.)
P.S. That’s damn depressing news, so if you want to go crawl back into bed, go read this awesome satire from the Borowitz Report.