On Second Thought, Maybe a Strip Search for Advil Isn't Reasonable

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit sided (PDF) with Savana Redding, the Arizona student who was strip-searched in 2003 by school officials searching for contraband ibuprofen:

On the basis of an uncorroborated tip from the culpable eighth grader, public middle school officials searched futilely for prescription-strength ibuprofen by strip-searching thirteen-year-old honor student Savana Redding. We conclude that the school officials violated Savana's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The strip search of Savana was neither "justified at its inception," as a grossly intrusive search of a middle school girl to locate pills with the potency of two over-the-counter Advil capsules, "reasonably related in scope to the circumstances" giving rise to its initiation. Because these constitutional principles were clearly established at the time that middle school officials directed and conducted the search, the school official in charge is not entitled to qualified immunity from suit for the unconstitutional strip search of Savana.

The six-to-five decision overturns a 2007 ruling by a three-judge 9th Circuit panel that upheld the search. I wrote about the case in a column last April.

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  • Nigel Watt||

    Middle schools are basically torture chambers. Being 13 is enough of one on its own, these people don't need to add to the pain.

  • ||

    Sweet, this means I can go back to hiding ibuprofen in my ass.

  • Ska||

    6-5 decision?!?!?! Un-fucking-believable.

  • ||

    6 - 5 ? This case was really that close? Scary.

  • ||

    What possible justification could the other 5 judges have come up with for why this was reasonable?

  • ||

    Btw: I seem to remember an effort to get a billboard up with this principal's picture on it - did that ever happen?

  • Episiarch||

    Like the Heller ruling, the fact that something like this was a single judge away from going the other way is pretty fucking chilling.

    However, if I am going to hide anything in my ass, it'll be a morphine suppository a la Trainspotting.

  • ||

    Thank whatever god you believe in. Only 45% of the 9th circuit is insane.

  • ||

    I had the same reaction as Ska and ChicagoTom - how could 5 of 11 people on the panel not see that strip-searching a 13-year-old (or anyone else) for ibuprofen is an unreasonable search? What in God's name could their criteria be for what constitutes unreasonable?

  • Jennifer||

    What possible justification could the other 5 judges have come up with for why this was reasonable?

    Two justifications: "OMG drugs!" and "OMG the children!"

  • Josh||

    What possible justification could the other 5 judges have come up with for why this was reasonable?

    Children are the state's property and it can do with them as it wishes.

  • Jennifer||

    And since we do have a sex-offender registry anyway, I hope all the staff involved in this case end up on it. Threatening a 13-year-old into stripping for you sure as hell sounds like a sexual offense to me.

  • ||

    Strip searching children is for the good of the children? Charge those mother*&@#*s with pedophilia if you want to protect the children....

  • ||

    Curses, Jen beat me to the punch...

  • kinnath||

    And since we do have a sex-offender registry anyway, I hope all the staff involved in this case end up on it.

    I second the motion.

  • ||

    Actually, two of the disenting justices agreed tha the search was unreasonable and a violation of the girl's rights. They just thought that the school officials were entitled to qualified immunity. Only three of the nine judges actually thought the search was reasonable, which is still pretty scary.

  • ||

  • ||

    You know. If a mother stip searched her 13 year old daughter looking for drugs, any guesses on how long it would take for CPS to charge her and take her kids away and try to put her on a sex offender registry? If a father did it, he would never see the light of day again. But for a school principal to do it, well that is different.

  • ||

    *Principal

  • ||

    Btw: I seem to remember an effort to get a billboard up with this principal's picture on it - did that ever happen?

    Unfortunately, no. We never got anyone living close enough to the area to get a photo of the guy.

  • J||

    It shouldn't be that close, but thank god they saw reason.

  • ||

    I find it interesting that the CC used this language:"as a grossly intrusive search of a middle school girl to locate pills with the potency of two over-the-counter Advil capsules".

    I suspect this will give school councilors a green light if they claim to be searching for stronger or more illicit substances.

    They may be looking for Advil but claim they are looking for ecstasy. Had the court reviewed that case: same search, same results, same violations, I am willing to bet the court would have decided the other way.

  • Episiarch||

    We know the government is insane about this, and it's frightening it was 6-5. But the point here is that I believe this clears the way for her to sue the shit out of the school and the administrators.

    That will scare other schools into not doing this. And that's important.

  • ||

    Mr. Wilson is still employed as Vice Pricipal at the school

    *Principal
    Reinmoose, t'was just an understandable typo. It's not like you spelled it principle.

    Of course he's still employed. A tenured, unionized, education bureaucrat is not going to get canned absent the proverbial "dead girl or live boy" scenario.

  • Zeb||

    Naked does not equal sex. This search was totally unreasonable and undoubtedly very unpleasant for the girl and the Principal probably deserves to be beaten about the head and shoulders with a tire iron, but a strip search by itself is not a sex offense (its not as if the male principal performed the search himself with drool dripping from his chin). Sorry. This shit is bad enough on its own. We don't need to make new shit up.

  • ||

    This case was so f'ing unbelievable in the first place. I mean, it would have been one thing if he were just a perv and conducted the strip search himself - but 2 other women had to be involved in this.

  • Erÿk Boston, J.D.||

    Next step: the supreme court where Scalia will chew out the school for not keeping a supply of latex gloves on hand for such searches.

  • ||

    J sub D -
    I still remember the day in 3rd grade when we learned about homonyms.

    You spell the school principal as "principal" because he's your "pal."

  • ||

    Naked does not equal sex. This search was totally unreasonable and undoubtedly very unpleasant for the girl and the Principal probably deserves to be beaten about the head and shoulders with a tire iron, but a strip search by itself is not a sex offense (its not as if the male principal performed the search himself with drool dripping from his chin). Sorry. This shit is bad enough on its own. We don't need to make new shit up.

    I dunno about that. If I get caught just hanging out with the 13 year old neighbor boy and just watching him strip or just looking at him naked, something tells me I would wind up on a sex offender list.

  • robc||

    Zeb,

    A person urinating in public is not committing a sex offense, and yet....

  • J||

    Reinmoose,

    I had that same lesson. My elementary school principal was actually pretty awesome though. And none of my principals were anything like this jackass.

  • robc||

    Reinmoose,

    You spell the school principal as "principal" because he's your "pal."

    They start the lying early, dont they.

  • ||

    Actually, two of the disenting justices agreed tha the search was unreasonable and a violation of the girl's rights. They just thought that the school officials were entitled to qualified immunity. Only three of the nine judges actually thought the search was reasonable, which is still pretty scary.

    Yes, and even more so when you realize one of the three dissenters who did not think the search was unreasonable was Judge Kozinski.

  • robc||

    Brian Courts,

    Kozinski wanted to post the pictures of the search on his website.

  • Naga Sadow||

    I hope the girl and her family get such a huge settlement that they will be essentially untouchable, kinda like the Kennedy's. Then pay to have the man sodomized by bikers.

  • ||

    Kozinski wanted to post the pictures of the search on his website.

    I think we have a thread winner

  • <i>REASON</i> Commenter||

    I thought this post was something about a strip search of avril Lavigne being unreasonable.
    Must get eyes checked......

  • ||

    They start the lying early, dont they.

    Like when they teach you that police officers are your friend, yeah, they do.

  • ||

    robc-
    I do remember a puppet show instructing me to say "no" if a stranger or even family member tries to offer me money to touch the area that my bathing suit covers - I imagine now-a-days, they add in a "but if that someone is trusted with authority in your community, and is not paying you, you should go ahead and do it."

  • Episiarch||

    I thought this post was something about a strip search of avril Lavigne being unreasonable.

    It would be perfectly reasonable. The least that Canuck skank could do for us is strip or do some porn. The more things in her mouth, the less she sings.

  • ||

    Normally, I am willing to give school officials a bit of latitude in searching students. For example, if a student was thought to have a gun or other serious weapon, I think a search of this magnitude might be permissible.

    That being said, this isn't as bad as the search for G strings conducted in San Diego

    http://www.mako.org.au/newsart33.html

    Further in the San Diego case the VP was demoted back to a classroom teacher. That won't be enough punishment for you blood thirsty, "public schools are evil crowd." But it was a serious demotion.

    Regards

    Joe Dokes

  • Naga Sadow||

    REASON commenter,

    We see what we want to see . . .

  • Abdul||

    As I remember, the principal was not present during the strip search. It was performed by a female school nurse who asked the student to move her undergarments to the side.

  • ||

    Epi,

    Say what you will about her music, but I think skank is a bit much. This is SFW:

    http://i234.photobucket.com/albums/ee284/gamasutra/avril-lavigne.jpg

  • ||

    "I dunno about that. If I get caught just hanging out with the 13 year old neighbor boy and just watching him strip or just looking at him naked, something tells me I would wind up on a sex offender list."

    Damn straight you would and if you had a previous offense for so much as having a dirty magazine, you would be lucky to see the light of day again.

    Kolzinki comment about his web site is the best on here in days.

  • Episiarch||

    Say what you will about her music, but I think skank is a bit much

    She's Canadian. Aren't all Canadian girls automatically skanks?

  • Naga Sadow||

    I believe you are refering to women of the Czech Republic. They are HOT and surprisingly willing.

  • ||

    Wait wait, why do we like Kozinski again? He went the other way on Kelo and now on this. Is it because he likes porn?

  • anarch||

    how could 5 of 11 people on the panel not see that strip-searching a 13-year-old (or anyone else) for ibuprofen is an unreasonable search?

    They were on ibu?

  • ||

    I can picture Avril being strip searched and sobbing while she whispers the lyrics to Sk8r Boi.

  • ||

    We never got anyone living close enough to the area to get a photo of the guy.

    Good thing; that would have been an invasion of his privacy.

  • Episiarch||

    I can picture Avril being strip searched and sobbing while she whispers the lyrics to Sk8r Boi.

    That's a good start.

  • robc||

    ChicagoTom,

    Thanks. I actually just clicked back on this thread to see if anyone had granted me the win. I was a fully juiced Barry Bonds standing at the plate watching after that post. I knew I had crushed it. No need to run towards first.

  • ||

    I seem to remember that they made this girl expose her genitalia in order to be sure she wasn't hiding the pills there. If that were my 13 year old daughter, I would be in jail and that administrator would be buried.

  • ||

    I can picture Avril being strip searched and sobbing while she whispers the lyrics to Sk8r Boi.

    Stop it, you are getting me all hot and bothered here....
    ...
    ...
    ...
    [looks around]

    What? Its normal!

  • ||

    We never got anyone living close enough to the area to get a photo of the guy.

    Good thing; that would have been an invasion of his privacy.



    No, it wouldn't. Even if you discount his job, he's still a de facto public figure based on the court case. That's one of the first things that got hashed out when the billboard idea came up.

  • Neu Mejican||

    You know. If a mother stip searched her 13 year old daughter looking for drugs, any guesses on how long it would take for CPS to charge her and take her kids away and try to put her on a sex offender registry?

    My guess...forever.

    If a father did it, he would never see the light of day again.

    Would it make him blind?
    Would he go to hell?

    He certainly wouldn't go to jail.

    But for a school principal to do it, well that is different.

    Yep, it is an unconstitutional search.

  • Paul||

    but a strip search by itself is not a sex offense

    So you say. We have no idea what went on in that room behind closed doors. I say we act with precaution here and assume this was sexually motivated.

  • Paul||

    Yep, it is an unconstitutional search.

    Never should have happened in the first place... ever.

    School officials are not cops. The fact that we can even entertain the notion that there might be a reasonable strip search of a kid by school officials is dreadful. If there's a kid that needs strip-searched, call the cops.

  • ||

    "You know. If a mother stip searched her 13 year old daughter looking for drugs, any guesses on how long it would take for CPS to charge her and take her kids away and try to put her on a sex offender registry?

    My guess...forever."


    You obviously have never delt with CPS. If a girl came to school and told them that her mother was strip searching her, CPS would be all over it.

  • ||

    Paul -
    this is off topic, but are you, by chance, from Pennsylvania?

  • Episiarch||

    The fact that we can even entertain the notion that there might be a reasonable strip search of a kid by school officials is dreadful.

    The fact that people are so terrified of drugs that many are fine with strip-searching kids is beyond dreadful.

  • ||

    I believe you are refering to women of the Czech Republic.

    Young Bulgarian women have invaded Cape Cod for the summer and have taken all the waitressing jobs. Dear GOD. All the hotness of the Czech women as well as being brunettes. Teh WIN.

    I kept spilling my drinks in my lap in the hopes they would offer to help clean it up. But no, all I got was a very wet crotch and an expensive bar tab. :::sob:::

  • ||

    Two of the 11 judges got it right -- the search was unconstitutional but not so clearly and obviously so that the school officials should have been stripped of qualified immunity and forced to pay money damages. (See the Judges Gould & Silverman dissent).

    The other 3 dissenters were wrong to find no constitutional violation, and the 6 in the majority were partly wrong, in finding that the unconstitutionality was so obvious that the defense of qualified immunity should be overridden.

  • Neu Mejican||

    You obviously have never delt with CPS. If a girl came to school and told them that her mother was strip searching her, CPS would be all over it.

    Hmmmm... must refrain from snarky comment....


    Anyway, I would imagine that I have more experience working with CPS than most people not working directly for CPS.

    A large chunk of my career has involved directly working with children in the foster care system.

  • ||

    Strip-searching middle school girls is the premise for 25% of Japanese porn movies. Or so I've heard.

  • TallDave||

    Usually it involves tentacles thought.

  • TallDave||

    though*

  • ||

    Reading the dissent of the three judges who thought the search to be reasonable made me angry as hell. Under their reasoning, it seems that they'd be willing to uphold any search for anything, just throwing it out under a qualified immunity basis.

    Reason number 2.3 trillion why my future children are not going to a public school.

  • ||

    Mr. Wilson is still employed as Vice Pricipal at the school

    Considering this is pronounced "Vice Prickipal", I give this an RC'z Law with oak leaf clusters.

    Ok, Hans and the rest of you strip immunizers:

    If strip searching a 13 year old girl to find ibuprofen pills isn't grossly unconstitutional, what would be?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Jake, I feel an occasional twinge of guilt for not working harder on the billboard idea. few things have made me angrier than this.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    It was performed by a female school nurse who asked the student to move her undergarments to the side.

    After having her remove all clothing except her bra and underwear. Then she asked her to pull her titties out of the bra and wiggle them around to see what might fall out. Then she asked her to pull her underwear away from the pelvic area so she could get a good look.

    Death penalty offense, any way you slice it.

  • Paul||

    this is off topic, but are you, by chance, from Pennsylvania?

    Reinmoose

    Negatory. Why?

  • Steve Verdon||

    We don't need to make new shit up.



    We aren't making up shit Zeb, we are just asking that current law be applied. After all, pictures of a newborn getting its first bath by mom would likely result in a SWAT raid looking for child porn. Seems like this case really isn't that different. Who knows if the school secretary or nurse got any jollies from this? I say we send in SWAT now. Both at the school offices then again at the homes of these people.

    [/sarcasm]

  • ||

    Funny, a lot of you sound like the kind of bandwagon-jumpers who shriek with angst when "schools do nothing". Ibuprofin is a key ingredient in brewing meth, a huge problem especially among poor white folk.

    BTW, "J sub D", this happened in Arizona, a right-to-work state with no meaningful worker protections (let alone a functional teachers' union), and administrators are management anyway. So let's not drag your reactionary politics into the mix!

    So, hey, zero tolerance is zero tolerance, right? You want schools to keep your kids in a drug-free bubble, but not to do anything about drugs? How crazy is that!

    The real question here is why she didn't surrender the drugs when asked.

  • ||

    needs strip-searched

    There's a phrase 'to be' missing there. That's typical of central Pennsylvania
    That's all

  • Paul||

    Ibuprofin is a key ingredient in brewing meth

    1. Since when?
    2. So what, even if it were?

  • Paul||

    So, hey, zero tolerance is zero tolerance, right? You want schools to keep your kids in a drug-free bubble, but not to do anything about drugs? How crazy is that!

    No one here believes in zero tolerance. Hence the whole 'liberty' theme. You should check it out.

    I keep my kids drug free. Not some yahoo with a tie I've never met before.

  • Paul||

    That's typical of central Pennsylvania
    That's all


    Ah, got ya. I think you'll find those colloquialisms in difrn't parts of this here country. I'm originally from the Southwest. Where occasionally, people need killin'.

  • ||

    The real question here is why she didn't surrender the drugs when asked.

    Umm... because she didn't have any?

    Also, what Paul said

  • ||

    Charlie's gotta be a parody. Even trolls are very rarely so fundamentally ignorant of both the facts at hand ("The real question here is why she didn't surrender the drugs when asked") and the audience they're writing to ("You want schools to keep your kids in a drug-free bubble...").

  • ||

    The very sad thing is that whatever compensation the victim of this crime recovers will come from the taxpayers, not the perps. Hell, have the perps even been bounced off the public payroll?

    -jcr

  • ||

    Ibuprofin is a key ingredient in brewing meth

    So is water. That doesn't make it illegal to posess.

    -jcr

  • ||

    The real question here is why she didn't surrender the drugs when asked.

    Because she didn't have any, you fucking idiot.

    -jcr

  • And why didn\'t she turn in he||

    The question emerges: What sign would it take for a troll to be identified as such by the otherwise clever posters here? I am so disappointed in you guys. But maybe your gullibility speaks to your sincerity.

  • ||

    Further in the San Diego case the VP was demoted back to a classroom teacher. That won't be enough punishment for you blood thirsty, "public schools are evil crowd." But it was a serious demotion.

    Demotion for a felony? Fuck that. She should be doing time.

    -jcr

  • if it\'s for me I\'m not here||

    She should be doing time.

  • ||

    Six to five is fucking pathetic.

  • ||

    6 - 5 ? This case was really that close? Scary.

    Nah, it would be scary if any other Circuit Court was that close. But the Ninth Circuit is full of fucking crazies, so them just getting it right at all is a bit surreal. Hell, you should see the crazy shit the Hawaii Supreme Court pulls.

    Hopefully the U.S. Supreme Court will be more sensible when this gets kicked upstairs.

  • ||

    The so-called "qualified immunity" doctrine itself is cut from whole cloth--judicial activism run amok. The language of the Civil Rights Act of 1871--codified at 42 United States Code § 1983--recognizes no immunities at all for State actors.

    Isn't it odd that those Republithugs who trumpet "judicial restraint" longest and loudest are strangely silent on the unqualified impunity qualified immunity doctrine?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||


    The real question here is why she didn't surrender the drugs when asked.


    Fuck you, idiot troll. If you had read even a dime's worth of the story you'd know there was no ibuprofen.

  • anarch (formerly known as M)||

    Close, TWC. Why not assume trolls do read, comprehend, and with malice aforethought, deliberately goad [for the locus classicus, click my name]? I fear your philanthropy deceives you into assuming incompetence. But that's better than anything else doing so.

  • ||

    Funny, a lot of you sound like the kind of bandwagon-jumpers who shriek with angst when "schools do nothing".

    Funny, Charlie, you sound like a witless moron living in a fact-free bubble making comments on things he knows absolutley nothing about.

    I can see by your reading comprehension skills that you decided that "school had nothing more to offer me" around the 8th grade, right?

  • ||

    There's a phrase 'to be' missing there. That's typical of central Pennsylvania

    Reinmoose--How do you come upon this info? Former resident? I ask as I'm still trying to cure myself of this linguistic malady.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Anarch, sorry for going Jaimie Kelley on the troll. Course, I'm not entirely sure the troll was even real. May well have been a regular trying to incite a riot by yelling fire in a crowded comment section.

    It is difficult for me to imagine that a person who actually read of the case could be anything but outraged. But I could be wrong.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    because he knows it teases....

    Yes, I suppose you may be right, Anarch. Whether and actual troll or not.

    BTW, I've never read Alice. Is that a parody or real?

  • Dave W.||

    My impression is that courts are actually cutting back on the qualified immunity nonsense a little bit. There seems to be some tacit acknowledgent of the fact that it was becoming an exception that had swallowed an awful lot of rules.

  • anarch||

    TWC - Trolls are eae ipsae (and in this instance polysemically) unreal.

    Alice is worth a mass, and that was verbatim from her eponymous opus, so do read her before satire becomes entirely indistinguishable from its subject. (Legal)case in point: the fact that several judges were not outraged indicates that such collateral damage finds broad acceptance.

  • anarch||

    The things we do for love, TW.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I realize this is a dead thread but I came across this in the LA Times article this afternoon.

    Can this be our libertarian Great White Hope, THEE Alex Kozinski?

    Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, joined by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski and Judge Carlos T. Bea, dissented on the grounds that the search was constitutional.



    Is he out of his mind? Or is this a misprint? Or am I missing something else?

  • fellow thread-necrophiliac ana||

    Discussed 4 times above, TW.

  • sweetchuckd||

    This story made http://detentionslip.org! Voted #1 for crazy news in education.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Oh [sheepish grin] thanks. I often read all the comments, but lately I've been skimming and off doing other things.

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