A small good step by the Supreme Court yesterday in Arizona v. Gant regarding Fourth Amendment rights in cars, but the case of Savannah Redding isn’t looking too good.
Reading the transcript of the oral arguments of Safford Unified School District v. Redding was pretty depressing. I don’t know how the Justices will rule, but it appears that they find little wrong with the idea of school officials stripping a young girl and were merely concerned by the procedure of determining when it’s a good idea. They even discussed body cavity searches in schools as if that was merely another option.
The Justices also talked about the idea that kids change clothes anyway for gym or the pool, so how is that different from a strip search. Really! They can’t tell the difference between the humiliation and loss of individual rights in a strip search and changing for gym class?
Dahlia Lithwick has a scathing OpEd at Slate: Search Me: The Supreme Court is neither hot nor bothered by strip searches.
When constitutional historians sit down someday to compile the definitive Supreme Court Concordance of Not Getting It, the entry directly next to Lilly Ledbetter (“Court fails utterly to understand realities of gender pay discrimination”) will be Savana Redding (“Court compares strip searches of 13-year-old girls to American Pie-style locker-room hijinks”). After today’s argument, it’s plain the court will overturn a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion finding a school’s decision to strip-search a 13-year-old girl unconstitutional. That the school in question was looking for a prescription pill with the mind-altering force of a pair of AdvilÖand couldn’t be bothered to call the child’s mother firstÖhardly matters.
To me, it’s a simple thing. Is having school officials strip search students constitutional? No. Period. Anytime. For any reason. At all. But that simple view was nowhere to be found in the room.
It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to expect the Supreme Court to protect the rights of our kids. We’ll have to do it ourselves.
Every parent needs to teach their kids that whenever school officials attempt to interrogate or search them, they should refuse to do anything until their parents and lawyer have been called.
In that vein, I highly recommend that all parents read A Teaching Moment, at a Public High School by Joel Rosenberg at WindyPundit.
“I know you kids were dealing drugs to her,” he opened with. “And if you don’t confess to me now, when she kills herself, I’ll see you all charged with first degree murder.”
At which point the kids started freaking out, just a little.
Including, on the inside, my kid. But only on the inside. “I want my father and I want my lawyer, now.”
Daddy’s girl did Daddy proud.
Later, Daddy has a discussion with the Vice Principal…
“And, in case I’m not clear, nobody at your school — not you, not your mall ninja, not anybody — is to interrogate my kid on anything without either her attorney or me being present. You can talk to her about her homework, but anything else, David or I are to be there. On a good day, you might get us both. You got that?”
Long pause. “I want to hear a yes on that right about now.”
That was the last time the Vice Principal of that school and I had a chat about anything.
That’s how you handle a power-mad zero-tolerant pipsqueak bureaucrat.