Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Slip-sliding away

I don't want to live in a country that strip-searches 13 year-old girls. The Supreme Court heard arguments today in a case involving a 13 year-old girl who was told by school administrators to strip down to her underwear. She was then instructed to hold her bra and her underwear away from her body so the two female staff members could see that she did not have any pills hidden. I have not yet read the full transcript of the argument, but I'm concerned from what I have read that the court members are a little too unwilling to put limits on what kinds of searches schools can conduct.

I don't think it's ever appropriate for school faculty members to subject a student to this kind of search. I'll make it a bright line. Certainly, I'd much rather have the bright line rule be schools can never strip search students than the other bright line of no limits on strip searches.

More importantly, though, I'm very concerned that we are raising the next generation to think searches are acceptable. Kids are told they can be searched by school personnel at any time. Most schools now have a police liaison officer on staff or on call. Drug tests are becoming the norm for kids who want to participate in sports or extracurricular activities. Of course, there's wiretapping and the Patriot Act, too. And here in Kansas, we have a federal judge telling kids evidence shouldn't be suppressed even if it was obtained illegally. (The kids subjected to that speech were the winners of the Constitution Bee. Because those kids obviously understand their rights too well, so we need to get at them before they start trying to protect those rights.)

So when these kids grow up, they might not think it's such a big deal if cops want to search their cars or ask them a few questions. I'm an old fogey, though. I still don't think it's ok. I think evidence obtained in illegal searches should be inadmissible in court. I'm not comfortable with drug testing kids. And I'm not ok with strip searching 13 year-old girls.

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