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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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30 Responses

  1. RMJ
    RMJ June 25, 2009 at 11:28 am |

    Jeez, Justice Thomas. Even Scalia said this was effed up.

  2. steph
    steph June 25, 2009 at 11:31 am |

    Oh, I donno. I think it’s a great idea to strip search people based on a rumor. bleh.

  3. norbizness
    norbizness June 25, 2009 at 11:37 am |

    There’s no limit to state power in Justice Thomas’ estimation, unless it’s used to actually help people.

  4. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil June 25, 2009 at 11:57 am |

    I didn’t think Thomas’s dissent was hilarious, I thought it was revolting and revealing. Thomas is essentially arguing for a return of corporal punishment in schools, and I can only imagine what he considers appropriate parenting.

    Thomas argues for a complete return to common law in loco parentis standards in which schools don’t actually have to follow 4th amendment restrictions because the Supreme Court has held that searches of children by parents does not fall under the 4th amendment.

    Only with a complete return to in loco parentis

    will teachers again be able to “‘govern their pupils, quicken the slothful, spur the indolent, restrain the impetuous, and control the stubborn’” by making “‘rules, giving commands, and punishing disobedience’” without interference from judges.”

    I read this “Get out of the way, you weaklings, and give schools the right to kick the shit of any kid who dares make a peep.” I am sure as hell glad I am not Clarence Thomas’s daughter.

    Thomas argues that if parents don’t like the policies their school sets, “they can seek redress in school boards or legislatures; they can send their children to private schools or home school them; or they can simply move.” Great choices there.

    Incidentally, here’s Souter, writing for the majority. I am VERY glad common sense prevailed.

    both subjective and reasonable societal expectations of personal privacy support the treatment of such a search as categorically distinct, requiring distinct elements of justification on the part of school authorities for going beyond a search of outer clothing and belongings.

    The meaning of such a search, and the degradation its subject may reasonably feel, place a search that intrusive in a category of its own demanding its own specific suspicions.

  5. mzbitca
    mzbitca June 25, 2009 at 12:25 pm |

    I deal with this often times since I run a recovery home. People become so focused on the fact that someone might be breaking the rules and getting away with it that they become power hungry to control every aspect. People sneak drugs into maximum security prison so it drives me nuts when schools and places think they have to be so air tight to the point where they constrict movement and privacy. Here’s the deal, if you have a drug testing policy at school and you hear someone is smuggling things in and you do not find them in locker and purse just do a drug test, don’t make them strip naked and go from there.

    It’s all about the power and the control to the point where they forget their students/residents are people.

  6. kaninchen
    kaninchen June 25, 2009 at 12:36 pm |

    I am pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Though unpleasantly not at all surprised by Justice Thomas’s dissent. The man apparently has never met a police state he didn’t love.

    I can’t imagine why he thinks he’d be at the top of things in such a police state, but he is in many ways mysterious.

  7. amandaw
    amandaw June 25, 2009 at 1:11 pm |

    Now how about they get to work on these idiotic Zero Tolerance policies?

  8. Seth Gordon
    Seth Gordon June 25, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  9. School Strip Search Was Illegal « Women’s Glib

    [...] Via Feministe. [...]

  10. human
    human June 25, 2009 at 1:23 pm |

    I want to get some underwear that say “F___ you, Clarence Thomas” on them.

  11. Ali
    Ali June 25, 2009 at 1:32 pm |

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

    Wait a minute, didn’t they never even find pills on her at all??? It sounds like Thomas is implying that she did and so the search was worth it. I could be wrong, but I thought that was the case when the story 1st came out.

  12. chava
    chava June 25, 2009 at 1:39 pm |

    Oh, Clarence Thomas. How you amuse me.

    Yay for the verdict, although she’s never going to get the years she had to fight for it back.

  13. Marle
    Marle June 25, 2009 at 1:53 pm |

    I still do not understand why anyone would think that a 13 year old was hiding pills in her panties and giving them out to classmates. Wouldn’t they … taste funny?

    But beyond that, schools should never strip search kids ever. If there’s a situation dangerous enough that warrants it (which this clearly wasn’t) they should call the police. This is crazy and I’m glad at least 8 justices agreed.

  14. AnonymousCoward
    AnonymousCoward June 25, 2009 at 2:02 pm |

    Are we supposed to be surprised that Justice Thomas was more than happy to affirm the right of people in power to sexually abuse their subordinates?

    I’m also very disappointed in the majority’s holding that, apparently it wasn’t well-settled enough that you don’t get to sexually assault a 13-year-old just because you’re a principal acting on the barest of suspicions. This guy’s actions were well beyond the pale, and he should be personally liable for them.

  15. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery June 25, 2009 at 2:22 pm |

    Yeah, AnonymousCoward has it right, here. This is an extremely threadbare victory for civil liberties. The majority opinion holds, according to the Times, that:

    Had Savana been suspected of having illegal drugs that could have posed a far greater danger to herself and other students, the strip search, too, might have been justified, the majority said, in an opinion by Justice David H. Souter.

    Also,

    The majority said it meant to cast “no ill reflection” on the assistant principal, Kerry Wilson, who ordered the search at a time when there were incidents of students using alcohol and tobacco. “Parents are known to overreact to protect their children from danger, and a school official with responsibility for safety may tend to do the same,”

    So, if it was a joint, it would’ve been A-OK for the principle to strip search her, and also, nobody involved in this outrage can be held responsible.

  16. SCOTUS Decision on Strip-Searching a Minor | my five year plan.

    [...] idiot who ruled against it? Noted pornography enthusiast Clarence Thomas, whose dissent provides a Freudian slip for the ages: Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments,” he said. [...]

  17. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe June 25, 2009 at 4:06 pm |

    I’m not surprised that Thomas recognizes no bounds to authority over children, considering his upbringing. He was raised by an abusive grandfather who not only beat (sorry, “whipped”) Thomas and his brother, but would make their lives miserable in insane ways. When he bought a new truck, he disconnected the heater so the cold would keep the boys from being “lazy.”

    It’s too bad Thomas is so fucked up. It’s tragic that he’s in a position to inflict his neuroses on the population at large for decades to come.

  18. john henthorne
    john henthorne June 25, 2009 at 5:31 pm |

    I don’t think thomas should be a judge he should retire he has no clue how the law reads

  19. William
    William June 25, 2009 at 5:41 pm |

    Here’s the deal, if you have a drug testing policy at school and you hear someone is smuggling things in and you do not find them in locker and purse just do a drug test, don’t make them strip naked and go from there.

    It’s all about the power and the control to the point where they forget their students/residents are people.

    Yeah, because ordering someone to pee in a cup or let you tap a vein is so much less intrusive than a strip search. After all, we mustn’t allow these children to use drugs!

    Fuck that. I mean, really, is it so damned important to keep kids from getting high that we have to have these kinds of conversations about what terribly intrusive fucking thing is the least intrusive? Why do these conversations always boil down to arguing over how we’re going to make sure kids might not be doing what kids (and human beings) have been finding ways to do since our hirsute ancestors ate some fungus that made them see god?

    People like to get fucked up, its human nature and it simply cannot be avoided. Virtually every culture (and country) on earth has some kind of social prohibition, taboo, or capital offense regarding drug use and people still use. People drank through prohibition and marijuana has only become more popular since we outlawed it to harass Mexicans and Jazz musicians. Why bother?

    Also, not to point out the obvious, buy say you’re a high school principle in a school with a drug testing policy. Any test you might use is sensitive enough to detect use for at least a period of days, if not months, and thus it is impossible to tell whether use occurred within school or not. Assuming you’re the principle of a public school, where do you find the authority to punish students for behavior which occurred off campus? Or is having a private life just one more thing students must give up for the mandatory privilege of choking down abstinence-only education and civics classes for 12 years?

  20. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 June 25, 2009 at 5:50 pm |

    I believe Redding was really sharp when she attended school, so she was probably a big target for some of the other students. I saw her in an interview, and she seemed really bookish, soft-spoken and quiet. I’m sure someone got into some trouble at school, and thought it would be cute to mention her name. Then school officials overreacted and did what they did. I wonder if the school had to call her parents and let them know they were violating their child? Nah…

    I don’t miss K-12 school at all. Not one single bit.

  21. Body Searches of Children, Up Close and Personal « Kittywampus

    [...] Well, despite the inane questions posed by some justices during oral arguments, Savana has won. Jill at Feministe reports that the lone dissent in the 8-1 decision came from Clarence Thomas: “Redding would not have been [...]

  22. CartoonCoyote
    CartoonCoyote June 25, 2009 at 8:59 pm |

    Is anyone else scraping their jaw off the floor after seeing that Roberts, Alito and (especially) Scalia concurred?

  23. stlthy
    stlthy June 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm |

    @CartoonCoyote: Yes, I am, as well.

  24. Some Facts/What This Means for You
    Some Facts/What This Means for You June 25, 2009 at 10:17 pm |

    Strip Searches Illegal…

    Today the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 (pdf) that an Arizona school district was wrong to strip-search a then-13-year-old student suspected of having over-the-counter painkillers tucked away in her underwear.
    There were several factors that undoubtedly infl…

  25. mike b.
    mike b. June 25, 2009 at 10:36 pm |

    Well said, WIlliam. And Tom highlights the important part of this ruling. This is how politicians work, and SC justices are no different. The headline is going to be “SC Rules Strip Search of Child is Illegal,” mollifying civil libertarian types and letting the sheep get back to pretending that they live in a free country.

    But the meat and potatoes of this ruling is that it has just EXPANDED the power of schools to search our kids, by not only codifying that strip searches of our children by school officials are legal, but by also stating that this principal acted REASONABLY.

    Talk about doublespeak: with one breath they rule his actions illegal, with another they call them reasonable and make them legal. Next time he wants to do the exact same thing, he just has to say he was looking for exstacy and the sexual assault of a teenage girl by school officials is perfectly legal. The supreme court said so.

    I am getting my kids out of this country. They will not spend one day in this kind of school system.

  26. AnonymousCoward
    AnonymousCoward June 26, 2009 at 1:31 pm |

    Mike B: No, the Supreme Court did not say that this principal acted reasonably; quite the opposite. They specifically ruled that his actions were unconstitutional.

    Qualified immunity applies unless the act was contrary to a clearly established Constitutional right. The majority opinion (incorrectly, in my view) held that the rules for strip searches had not been adequately established to hold an individual individually responsible for their state action. That means that, while it was wrong, in the view of the Court, it wasn’t the sort of wrong that a state official should be expected to know was wrong.

  27. amandaw
    amandaw June 26, 2009 at 1:40 pm |

    It’s too bad Thomas is so fucked up. It’s tragic that he’s in a position to inflict his neuroses on the population at large for decades to come.

    Seriously? Are we proposing the “damaged goods” theory here? Any person who has experiences outside the idealized norm are not fit to hold any power anywhere in society? Cuz, you know, that’s actually a pretty disturbing proposition.

  28. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers June 26, 2009 at 5:01 pm |

    Seriously? Are we proposing the “damaged goods” theory here? Any person who has experiences outside the idealized norm are not fit to hold any power anywhere in society? Cuz, you know, that’s actually a pretty disturbing proposition.

    Well, a person who was abused by their parents *could* have developed a profound sense of empathy for people wronged by authority, and could have become a Supreme Court justice of the kind who perceives the law as existing to protect the weak from the strong and keep power balanced and equitable. Unfortunately that did not happen with Thomas.

    I don’t think anyone is saying Thomas should not be a justice because he was abused, but because whatever he went through turned him into a rigid authoritarian who will invariably support the strong against the weak. I’m not sure that we need to invoke the things he suffered to point out that his beliefs are fucked up and someone with them should not be on the Supreme Court; George W. Bush was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, suffered nothing worse than emotional neglect, and *he* was plainly not qualified for power either.

  29. William
    William June 26, 2009 at 6:36 pm |

    Seriously? Are we proposing the “damaged goods” theory here? Any person who has experiences outside the idealized norm are not fit to hold any power anywhere in society? Cuz, you know, that’s actually a pretty disturbing proposition.

    I was kind of thinking that too. I mean, Thomas’ “infliction of neuroses” isn’t really functionally different (in my mind at least) to Sotomayor’s “wise latina” or the other justice’s presumably “normal white” experience. They’re experiences, they create biases, and they’re about as common as assholes. Thomas might be making his judgments based upon his own personal baggage, but thats kind of what human beings do.

    Really, sometimes I think “Beyond Good and Evil” and “On the Genealogy of Morals” ought to be required reading in high school…

  30. mike b.
    mike b. June 30, 2009 at 7:16 am |

    Hey Anonymnous Coward,

    I get the qualified immunity. Unless I’m misinterpreting, this ruling upheld the constitutionality of strip searching children for illegal drugs. In other words, the principal only broke the law because he ordered a strip search for a legal drug. Had he been after ecstacy or pot, the sexual assault of this 13 year old girl would have been perfectly legal, according to the ruling.

    Am I making a mistake? Thanks for the feedback.

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