The Supreme Court ruled today that school officials’ strip search of a then-13-year-old Arizona teen suspected of possessing a painkiller violated the girl’s constitutional rights, despite the school district’s zero-tolerance policy for drugs.
The court said, however, that school officials are protected from personal liability in the case.
The ruling is a partial victory for Savana Redding, who had been summoned from her middle school classroom and was asked to strip down to her underwear as school officials searched for prescription strength ibuprofen.
The one dissenter on the Constitutional right issue was Clarence Thomas, who, as usual, doesn’t think that students should have Constitutional rights. He’s all for them when you get out of school, but his views about how schools should be run are positively scary.
Stevens and Ginsburg would have made the school pay up.
The opinion is available here: Safford Unified School District #1 et al v. Redding.
Note: I don’t consider this a very big win (except for Savana’s specific rights), as the court limited their ruling and said that it might be just fine to search her backpack, or if it had been suspected illegal drugs, a panty raid might have been in order after all. Clarence Thomas wanted to inspect the girl’s panties so badly that he indicated the fact that the backpack search turned up empty was reason enough to search the panties.