orichalcum: (teacher)
From yesterday's hearing in Safford v. Redding, on whether a school had the right to strip-search a 13-year-old girl on suspicion that she might have prescription-strength Ibuprofen on her person:

Justice Breyer: "In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day. We changed for gym, O.K.? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear.”

Justice Scalia: “You’ve searched everywhere else. By God, the drugs must be in her underpants.”

Sadly, it seems like the plaintiff may lose this case, because most of the justices appear to be taking the position, as Justice Souter put it, "that they'd rather have one kid embarassed than another kid dead."

It's not that I think drug abuse in schools isn't a problem. But I really do wonder if these (older, male) Justices have any real idea of how far beyond "embarrassing" it would be for a sensitive 13-year-old girl to have to pull open her underwear and bra in front of multiple strange adults, _especially_ when the evidence that she might be hiding non-illegal, minor drugs is extremely minimal and based on the accusation from an untrustworthy student. This is _not_ like changing in the gym - and I don't know about boys' locker rooms, but in the girls' locker room in my middle school, many girls either changed behind a bathroom stall or perfected the art of rapidly switching tops and shorts such that no substantial portion of skin was ever humiliatingly exposed, much less touched by a teacher.

Thanks to Dahlia Lithwick, I think that Justice Ginsburg (who turns out to be both brilliant _and_ funny) summed it up best in another recent school case on drug testing for students in all school activities, Pottawatomie School District vs. Earls, when wrote: )

OTOH, from yesterday's hearing, this is why Justice Alito terrifies me: )
Mood:: 'sad' sad


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