SCOTUS says spread ’em and cough: Jail security trumps privacy

Apr 3rd, 2012 | By | Category: Courts, Spotlight

The Supreme Court says jail security trumps all. Paco concurs.

Supreme Court Ruling Allows Strip-Searches for Any Arrest

By ADAM LIPTAK | New York Times
WASHINGTON — 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.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs, but also public health and information about gang affiliations.

“Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed,” Justice Kennedy wrote, adding that about 13 million people are admitted each year to the nation’s jails.

The procedures endorsed by the majority are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and are at odds with the policies of federal authorities. According to a supporting brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also ban the procedures.

The federal appeals courts had been split on the question, though most of them prohibited strip-searches unless they were based on a reasonable suspicion that contraband was present. The Supreme Court did not say that strip-searches of every new arrestee were required; it ruled, rather, that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches did not forbid them…

Justice Kennedy responded that “people detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals.” He noted that Timothy McVeigh, later put to death for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was first arrested for driving without a license plate. “One of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks was stopped and ticketed for speeding just two days before hijacking Flight 93,” Justice Kennedy added…(Full text at New York Times)

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6 Comments to “SCOTUS says spread ’em and cough: Jail security trumps privacy”

  1. Now onto the real ???...... says:

    Now onto the real question that has all of us thinking….who is the chick?

    • kl2008a says:

      I don’t know who the chick is, but from the picture, Justice Ginsburg looks like she’s trying to get a better view! :-)

      • that is what's says:

        Damn that is some correctional awareness… even looks like she tilt a bit to get a better perspective…I will summon it up with one of Justice Ginsberg’s quotes that would go great with this insight…..

        “This court should not short-circuit the normal review process absent a showing of irreparable harm stronger than that presented here,”

        Ruth Ginsberg

  2. Bob Walsh says:

    Does anybody besides me think it is scary that four federal judge do NOT think it is a good idea to strip search incoming prisoners?

    • pacovilla says:

      That’s how I see it.

    • G. Jackson says:

      U.S. Supreme Court judges don’t always dissent because they disagree with the overriding premise presented. Very often, they dissent because they disagree with the basis of the argumentation style and legal philosophy used to arrive at it. For instance, Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia (an originalist and a strict constructionist, both conservatives) have often voted against many notable liberal free speech decisions the court has made. Liberals have often pointed to this as them being “anti-First Amendment”. Actually, what they were voting against was the liberal methodology of interpreting the constiution to arrive at those decisions. In their view, if it’s not literally written in the constitition, then it cannot be used as a basis for a valid argument. When liberal judges go outside of the Constitution to inject their judicial interpretation of what it “should” say as opposed to what it actually says literally, Scalia and Thomas vote against their opinions and dissent, even if they agree with the main idea. All of the attached baggaged that is included often has legal implications beyond the decision made by the high court.

      Also, it is common for judges to vote in favor while dissenting at the same time. This has the effect of allowing the decision of the court to stand while weakening the strength and scope of the decision. If a favorable vote is very narrow and there are a lot of dissenters, even among those voting in favor, this is often a signal that the decision will probably be re-visited in the future by a later court.