Supreme Court Rules Constitution Protects Cops' Right to Strip Search Everyone for Any Reason

Illustration for article titled Supreme Court Rules Constitution Protects Cops' Right to Strip Search Everyone for Any Reason

In a continuing effort to collectively take a dump on America before they all die off, the justices of the US Supreme Court ruled today that police are entirely within their rights to strip search any person arrested for any offense, no matter how minor, even if authorities have no reason to suspect that the arrested party is carrying any illegal substances or weapons on them. So, if you're ever arrested for anything ever, prepare to spread 'em and cough.

The ruling, which split the justices 5-4, opens up the door for police officers everywhere, from sea to shivering, naked shining sea, to subject arrested parties to "a close visual inspection while undressed." The court heard cases of people who were strip searched after such crimes against society as leash law violations, unpaid parking tickets, and failing to pay child support. Because, presumably, people taken into police custody could feasibly be hiding their unpaid parking tickets or child support or dog leashes under their balls.

According to the New York Times, one case involved a man who was the passenger in his car when his wife was arrested for speeding. He was taken into police custody over an allegedly unpaid fine (a fine that turned out to be paid — oopsie-daisy!) and forced to strip naked, even though police had no reason to suspect that he was carrying a weapon or contraband. According to the man, one of the officers told him to turn around, squat and cough, and spread his cheeks.


Totally fine, ruled the court, citing concerns for the safety of the rest of the inmates. Justice Anthony Kennedy, ever the swing vote, wrote in the majority opinion,

It is not surprising that correctional officials have sought to perform thorough searches at intake for disease, gang affiliation and contraband. Jails are often crowded, unsanitary and dangerous places. There is a substantial interest in preventing any new inmate, either of his own will or as a result of coercion, from putting all who live or work at these institutions at even greater risk when he is admitted to the general population.

Chief Justice John Roberts was careful to note that there could be "exceptions" to the rule. The dissenters wrote that allowing strip searches willy-nilly sounds like a great way to reduce America to a terribly fucked up police state.

I feel a Lee Greenwood song swelling in my head right now. It's just so comforting to know I live in a country where a police officer who is having a bad day can take it out on me by forcing me to take my clothes off after he catches me jaywalking (jayrunning?) to catch a bus. It's best the incarcerated population is protected from the possible deadly supplies of human dignity people who don't properly leash their dogs could be smuggling into jail. That's how the Founding Fathers would have wanted it, right?


We need The Batman now more than ever.

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I wish Jez had specialized correspondents who can interpret these kinds of events with a keener eye for the law, or science.

Ms. Ryan is wrong in her interpretation of the SCOTUS ruling and her article is incorrect.

The SCOTUS opinion states that being strip-searched isn't a 4th Amendment violation, not that there is a "right" to do so.

This is a very important and not small distinction.