Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Safford Unified School v. Redding, a dispute concerning the propriety of a school-ordered a strip-search of a 13-year-old student who was believed to be in possession of prescription strength ibuprofen in violation of the school’s zero-tolerance drug policy. The case has received a good deal of media coverage (see the New York Times article for an example) because the facts are attention grabbing. But, attention-grabbing facts aside, the case has the potential to clarify the Fourth Amendment rights of students and, in particular, whether suspicion of violating school policy may justify strip searches in schools.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari, in part, to address the question (.pdf): “Whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits public school officials from conducting a search of a student suspected of possessing and distributing a prescription drug on campus in violation of school policy.” Early reporting from today’s oral arguments suggests that the Court is likely to reach that question.
- The Argument Calendar for the Supreme Court (.pdf) – also available from Supreme Court website here (.pdf).
- Safford Unified School v. Redding Questions Presented (.pdf).
- New York Times, “Strip-Search of Girl Tests Limits of School Policy”, 3/23/09 (registration required).
- Lyle Denniston “Analysis: A Fear May Drive A Decision”, SCOTUSBlog 4/21/09