Thursday, June 25, 2009

Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments


The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Safford Unified School District #1 v. Redding that school authorities stip-searching a 13-year-old girl for drugs is “unconstitutionally skeezy.” The lone dissenter was of course Clarence Thomas, whose opinion shows him drooling over the thought, not so much of naked 13-year-old bodies, but of power. Raw, unchecked power. Especially power over naked 13-year-old bodies.

Where the other justices considered whether the search violated Savana Redding’s 4th Amendment rights, Thomas suggested that she should have no such protection against school authorities, that we should “return to the common-law doctrine of in loco parentis” (from a time before school attendance was mandatory), under which teachers had absolute authority over pupils and complete “discretion to craft the rules needed to carry out the disciplinary responsibilities delegated to them by parents.” Just as children have no 4th Amendment right against their parents searching their room, so too they would be subject to any search a school wanted to perform upon them. “Preservation of order, discipline, and safety in public schools is simply not the domain of the Constitution.”

Thomas wrote that any search for pills is reasonable and thus permissible so long as it is “limited to the areas where the object of that infraction could be concealed” (i.e., boobies) (of course by his standard cavity searches would also be reasonable). “Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments.”

Thomas suggests that if parents do not intend to delegate their intrusive-searching authority to schools under the in loco parentis doctrine he proposes to restore (which came from a time before school attendance was mandatory), they may (he is quoting his own opinion in the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case (Morse v. Frederick), “seek redress in school boards or legislatures; they can send their children to private schools or home school them; or they can simply move.” No problemo.

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