Friday, June 26, 2009

Supreme Court Rules Strip Search of Student Unconstitutional

On Thursday the United States Supreme Court ruled that the strip search of an Arizona grammar school student violated the student's Fourth Amendment rights and was unconstitutional. A classmate accused Savana Redding of giving her pills. The vice principal took Redding to his office and searched her backpack. When nothing was found in the backpack she was taken to the nurse's office where she was forced to move her bra to the side and stretch her underwear waistband exposing her breasts and pelvic area. No pills were ever found. Redding filed a lawsuit against the school officials and the school district. The trial judge dismissed the lawsuit. An appeals court agreed with the dismissal. But last July, a full panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the search was an invasion of her constitutional rights and found that the school administrators could be found individually liable for damages. In Thursday's decision, the Supreme Court agreed that the student's rights were violated but ruled that the school officials could not be held financially liable for damages. The Court returned the case to the lower courts to determine whether the school district could be held financially liable for damages.

The court ruled that the search of Redding's backpack was permissible. But when nothing was found, the officials went too far when they asked her to take off her clothes. Officials only need "reasonable suspicion," not probable cause to search a student. But the court found that the school officials found that the strip search of the student was "excessively intrusive."

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