Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Savana Redding still remembers the day when her school officials in Safford, Arizona forced her to strip six years ago. She was 13 then and in eighth grade.
On that day, she was wearing black stretch pants with butterfly patches and a pink T-shirt — when she was forced to strip on suspicion of bringing unauthorized pills to school.
The search by two female school employees was methodical and humiliating, Redding said. After she had stripped to her underwear, “they asked me to pull out my bra and move it from side to side,” she said. “They made me open my legs and pull out my underwear.”
Ms. Redding, an honors student, had no pills. But she had a furious mother and a lawyer, and now her case has reached the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on April 21.
The case will require the justices to consider the thorny question of just how much leeway school officials should have in policing zero-tolerance policies for drugs and violence, and the court is likely to provide important guidance to schools around the nation.
In Ms. Redding’s case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled that school officials had violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches.
Writing for the majority, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw said, “It does not require a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a 13-year-old child is an invasion of constitutional rights.”
“More than that,” Judge Wardlaw added, “it is a violation of any known principle of human dignity.”
Posted by elphegeg at 11:52 PM