People For the American Way

Supreme Court Strip Search Decision Supports Sotomayor Dissent


Contact: Drew Courtney or Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

The Supreme Court today issued a ruling in the case Safford Unified School District v. April Redding declaring unconstitutional a school’s strip search of a 13 year old girl but found that the individual officials involved were protected by qualified immunity. The Court’s majority opinion, authored by Justice Souter, about the unconstitutionality of the search was in line with a dissent by Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the case N.G. & S.G. ex rel. S.C. v. Connecticut, in which she recognized that the uniquely invasive nature of strip searches requires that there be a reasonable suspicion.

Debbie Liu, General Counsel at People For the American Way, issued the following statement.

“The Court was correct in ruling that Savana Redding’s Constitutional rights were violated when she was strip searched at school. Students don’t lose their rights at the school house gate, and strip searching a teenage girl to look for ibuprofen is not a reasonable course of action.

“Moreover, the Court’s opinion as to the search aligns closely with Judge Sotomayor’s dissent in the similar case of N.G. v. Connecticut. Justice Souter’s opinion today was explicit in pointing out the importance of taking into account an adolescent’s inherent vulnerability in such situations, just as Judge Sotomayor’s dissent did in the case before her in the Second Circuit.

“Today’s ruling is yet another reaffirmation of Judge Sotomayor’s record as a jurist who applies the law in a fair and reasoned way.”

# # #