U.S. Supreme Court to Review School Strip-Search Case

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide whether allowing schools to conduct strip-searches is a reasonable way to prevent drug use in schools; the court is reviewing a case where a school official ordered a strip-search of a middle-school student to see if she was carrying prescription-strength ibuprofen, the Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 17.

While students are protected against “unreasonable searches,” school officials are allowed to search students and their property if they have reason to believe that students possess drugs or are breaking school rules.

However, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld 13-year-old Savana Redding’s right to sue her school’s assistant principal for ordering a strip search, and the Safford Unified School District for violating Redding’s constitutional rights.

The court said the full-body search was unreasonable, and found the assistant principal was liable for “a grossly intrusive search of a middle-school girl to locate pills with the potency of two over-the-counter Advil capsules.”

The school district appealed the case to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the ruling would “create enormous confusion for school officials in trying to determine when and how searches may now properly be conducted.” School officials asserted that judges do not understand the “shifting trends in drug abuse,” and should leave such judgment calls to school officials.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Review School Strip-Search Case

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide whether allowing schools to conduct strip-searches is a reasonable way to prevent drug use in schools; the court is reviewing a case where a school official ordered a strip-search of a middle-school student to see if she was carrying prescription-strength ibuprofen, the Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 17.


While students are protected against “unreasonable searches,” school officials are allowed to search students and their property if they have reason to believe that students possess drugs or are breaking school rules.


However, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld 13-year-old Savana Redding's right to sue her school's assistant principal for ordering a strip search, and the Safford Unified School District for violating Redding's constitutional rights.


The court said the full-body search was unreasonable, and found the assistant principal was liable for “a grossly intrusive search of a middle-school girl to locate pills with the potency of two over-the-counter Advil capsules.”


The school district appealed the case to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the ruling would “create enormous confusion for school officials in trying to determine when and how searches may now properly be conducted.” School officials asserted that judges do not understand the “shifting trends in drug abuse,” and should leave such judgment calls to school officials.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Review Traffic Stops

At the urging of 20 states, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a Maryland case that pertains to traffic stops of drug suspects, the Associated Press reported March 25.

The case dates back to a 1999 traffic stop in Baltimore County. Police found five small plastic bags of cocaine in an armrest in the back seat of the car, and $763 in the glove compartment. All occupants in the car were arrested, even through they denied knowing anything about the drugs and money.

The Supreme Court justices will determine the scope of police authority in making such arrests without a warrant.

“Countless times each day, officers make traffic stops and uncover contraband in multi-passenger situations. Police need the clarity of authority to know who may be arrested in such cases,” said Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran.

In the Maryland case, Joseph Jermaine Pringle, the front-seat passenger, was convicted of drug charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He appealed the ruling, saying the arrest was unconstitutional and his confession to police was tainted.

Under the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment, unreasonable searches or seizures are prohibited. However, in previous rulings the Supreme Court has provided leeway to police regarding searches of automobiles and public transportation.

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