The Supreme Court Friday granted certiorari to a school district in the case of a 13 year old girl who was strip-searched by school officials looking for contraband ibuprofen. The school has a zero-tolerance policy on all medication, whether over-the-counter or prescription, without prior written permission. The girl was stripped after another student was caught with a 400 milligram ibuprofen tablet and accused her of being the source.
The 9th Circuit ruled in favor of the student, noting that
Common sense informs us 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.
Imagine that, school officials demonstrating a lack of common sense when drugs are involved.
This case is a perfect example of why zero-tolerance is such a foolish concept. School officials strip-searched a 13 year old girl, not for a gun, not for a knife, not for heroin, but for the equivalent of 1 Advil Extra Strength Caplet. In the U.S. we now have schools where teachers are afraid to give a crying student a hug, for fear of a sexual harassment claim, but the administrators can force them to strip to their undies and reveal their privates to be sure they don’t have aspirin.
That’s why this grant of certiorari is worrisome. If the Court had denied cert, the 9th Circuit’s ruling against the school would have stood. But the 9th has a bad track record of being overruled by the Supreme Court, and the Supremes have demonstrated little concern for individual rights within the confluence of students and drugs, as evidenced by their panicky ruling in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case.
The fate of America’s teenagers now lie in the hands of a Supreme Court that has apparently taken Helen Lovejoy’s famous catchphrase to heart. I have three pre-teen daughters, and I’m worried.
[Note: This is my last guest-post. It’s been fun. Thanks, Ed! And thanks to all the birfers and the loyal Dispatchers who participated in the smackdown.]