Schwartz & Powell

Fourth Amendment Stripped Naked

by Steven D. Powell Attorney at Law

fourth amendment 

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution used to prohibit unreasonable search and seizures. The present United States Supreme Court seems not to understand this fundamental principle of constitutional and procedural criminal law. Maybe the Court simply doesn’t care. This Ventura County criminal lawyer can’t read the Court’s obviously perverse institutional mind. Is the court forgetting or just plain ignoring the importance of the Fourth Amendment to our notions of decency and ordered liberty? Does the Court now see itself as a rubber stamp rather than judges of police procedure?

The perverse and constitutionally pernicious institutional mind of the United States Supreme Court manifested itself April 2, 2012 when the Court approved police agencies strip searching and chemically showering your grandmother should she be arrested and booked on a warrant erroneously “in the system.” The Court said the police may force her to expose and manipulate her genitals so the jailers can see whether she’s hiding drugs, weapons or other contraband in her ordinarily private parts. The 5-4 intellectually indecent decision in Florence v. Board Of Chosen Freeholders of Burlington, No 10-945 says Grandma may be ordered to hold her genitals, squat and allow the inquisitorial eyes of her captors to examine every intimate inch of her exposed private parts.

Even without probable cause to arrest, the police may arrest Grandpa, too. They may force your innocent and wrongfully arrested Grandpa to hold his genitalia and manipulate them and squat and cough like a patient undergoing hernia or rectal exam. The police may then stare at his pathetic nude body looking for whatever may interest them. The police, the Court said, don’t need probable cause to arrest Grandpa and don’t need point to any specific articulable facts suggesting Grandpa is holding drugs, weapons or contraband. The police don’t need to have any facts suggesting Grandpa is a gang member or has tattooed evidence of such affiliations inside his underpants.

The court said once the police arrested Grandpa illegally the police may book Grandpa and trample his rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and free from invasion of his right to privacy. The police can do this to Grandma and Grandpa because the institutional mind of the police, the Court said, thinks this is necessary to holding people in jail. And if the police think it’s a good idea: too bad, too sad, Grandma and Grandpa cannot successfully sue the police for money damages. The Court doesn’t even want to review the matter!

The institutional mind of the Court, Justice Kennedy reasoned, should not scrutinize the institutional mind of the police. If the police think it’s a good idea to humiliate innocent men and women, so be it. Clearly, the Court has placed the cart before the horse reversing its supervisory powers over the freedom of the people of these United States by giving its power to the local police agencies the Court supervised in the not so remote history of the United States Supreme Court.

This is a sad moment in American history not just for Grandma and Grandpa. Now the police can illegally arrest and strip search you and there is nothing the Court will do for you.  You do not matter.

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