Welcome to the police state where paranoid conservatives are running the show. On Monday the Supreme Court ruled that officials can strip-search people arrested without regard to the context or severity of the offense. It was yet another 5-4 vote along ideological lines with the conservative justices ruling that courts should not second-guess law enforcement officials.
“Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed,” Justice Kennedy wrote, adding that about 13 million people are admitted each year to the nation’s jails.
The procedures endorsed by the majority are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and are at odds with the policies of federal authorities. According to a supporting brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also ban the procedures.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the four dissenters, said the strip-searches the majority allowed were “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy” and should be used only when there was good reason to do so.
Justice Breyer said that the Fourth Amendment should be understood to bar strip-searches of people arrested for minor offenses not involving drugs or violence, unless officials had a reasonable suspicion that they were carrying contraband.
Given the cases of police brutality at Occupy Wall Street protests as well as the Trayvon Martin case, this is yet another blow to liberty and human dignity in a quest by conservatives to feel safe in a country they perceive as growing increasingly violent, despite the evidence to the contrary.