6.25.2009

In which I correctly guess something

So, when I read about today's Supreme Court ruling that strip-searching a 13-year-old girl for the purposes of finding two Advil is illegal, I saw that the ruling was nearly unanimous at 8-1. I turned to the guy working to my left and said "Bet you it's Thomas." (He had no idea what I was talking about, but smiled politely anyway.) Sadly, the article in the Times (at least as of now) doesn't say who the lone hold-out was. Thankfully, the HuffPo came through:
In a dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas found the search legal and said the court previously had given school officials "considerable leeway" under the Fourth Amendment in school settings.

Officials had searched the girl's backpack and found nothing, Thomas said. "It was eminently reasonable to conclude the backpack was empty because Redding was secreting the pills in a place she thought no one would look," Thomas said.

Thomas warned that the majority's decision could backfire. "Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments," he said. "Nor will she be the last after today's decision, which announces the safest place to secret contraband in school."

Shazam!

Let's read from Justice Souter's majority opinion, shall we?
"What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear," Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. "We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable."
So, in other words, the two-bit crime being investigated (which, for the record, the 13-year-old in question hadn't actually committed) and the lack of any real evidence that she had the two Advil in her knickers pretty much put the kibosh on the school's right to humiliate a student and violate her privacy so thoroughly.

Justice Thomas continues to astound me with his unwavering belief in executive authority (even as small as a vice principal's) over civil rights. (Also, apparently, his belief that otherwise stymied drug smugglers will suddenly start stashing things in their briefs because of this case, as though it had never occurred to them before.) In his world, the rights of the authority to enforce its rules, no matter how minor the infraction at hand, supersede any consideration of the individual's dignity.

7 comments:

  1. What is going on with Scalia? This is at least the second time of late where he's left Thomas to defend the forces of darkness by himself.

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  2. Perhaps he has taken ill. I shall send him a fruit basket.

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  3. Or perhaps just some extra-strength Advil... :)

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  4. or a lovely cracked-pottery vase?

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  5. Well, Devin, at least now he knows where to tuck it away.

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  6. actually, thomas and scalia agree much less than most people realize, from wiki: On average, from 1994 to 2004, Justices Scalia and Thomas had an 86.7% voting alignment. This was the case I had in mind when I defended Sotomayor, I do think a woman would get this quicker and easier than a guy would but for this case I am happy to see that most of the men did get it.

    charo

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  7. Charo: "This was the case I had in mind when I defended Sotomayor, I do think a woman would get this quicker and easier than a guy would but for this case I am happy to see that most of the men did get it."

    My sentiments exactly.

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