SC ponders where to hide your stuff at school

NY Times:

The United States Supreme Court spent an hour on Tuesday debating what middle school students are apt to put in their underwear and what should be done about it.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, for instance, said it struck him as “a logical thing” that adolescents seeking to hide pills “will stick them in their underwear.”

Adam B. Wolf, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, disagreed, invoking what he called the “ick factor.”

His client, Savana Redding, had been subjected to a strip search in 2003 by school officials in Safford, Ariz. She was 13 and in eighth grade at the time.

The officials were acting on a tip from another student and were looking for prescription-strength ibuprofen, a painkiller. They made Ms. Redding strip to her underwear, shake her bra and pull aside her panties. The officials, both female, found no pills.


Justice Breyer elaborated on what children put in their underwear. “In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day,” he said. “We changed for gym, O.K.? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear.”

The courtroom rocked with laughter, and the justice grew a little flustered at having apparently misspoken.

While Supreme Court arguments can often be bone-dry exercises in statutory exegesis and doctrinal refinement, Tuesday’s session was grounded in vivid facts: school snitches, drugs, underwear and body cavities.

This is a case they should not have taken. If they restrict the searches to certain pieces of clothing or underwear, every middle school student in the country will know where to hide their stuff in the area that cannot be searched. In other words, they will guarantee that contraband will be hidden in underpants if they say that it cannot be searched. Some things are better left ambiguous.


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