An Arizona school violated the constitutional rights of a 13-year-old student by conducting a strip search for ibuprofen, a divided U.S. appeals court has ruled.
Suspecting that a student had violated a policy against prescription or over-the-counter drugs without permission, public school officials in Safford, Arizona, ordered a search of Savana Redding. A school nurse had her remove her clothes, including her bra, and shake her underwear to see if Redding was hiding anything.
The 2003 search, prompted by a tip from another girl, did not find ibuprofen, which is found in common medications like Advil and Motrin to treat pain like cramps and headaches. Higher doses require a prescription…
“Directing a 13-year-old girl to remove her clothes, partially revealing her breasts and pelvic area, for allegedly possessing ibuprofen, an infraction that poses an imminent danger to no one, and which could be handled by keeping her in the principal’s office until a parent arrived or simply sending her home, was excessively intrusive,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for the majority.
“And all this to find prescription-strength ibuprofen pills,” Wardlaw continued later. “No legal decision cited to us, or that we could find, permitted a strip search to discover substances regularly available over the counter at any convenience store throughout the United States.”
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wrote, “We should resist using our independent judgment to determine what infractions are so harmful as to justify significantly intrusive searches.”
In my considered opinion, Judge Michael Daly Hawkins is an idiot.
Read through, again, what this blivet said. It is neither logical – nor reasonable. He only cares to reinforce blind obedience to whatever institution of the state is in charge of your life.
Thanks, K B
While a federal magistrate and a three-panel appeals court found the search was reasonable, the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Redding last year.
“Common sense informs us,” wrote the court, “that directing a 13-year-old girl to remove her clothes, partially revealing her breasts and pelvic area, for allegedly possessing ibuprofen … was excessively intrusive.”
The court said the school went too far in its effort to create a drug- and crime-free classroom. “The overzealousness of school administrators in efforts to protect students has the tragic impact of traumatizing those they claim to serve. And all this to find prescription-strength ibuprofen.”
Goes to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, 21 April
UPDATE: Victory – rules the Supreme Court.