Civil Liberties Advocates: Supreme Court Strip Search Ruling Could Lead to Systematic Police Abuse
Interview with Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, conducted by Scott Harris
In a 5-4 ruling on April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that allows security officials in American jails to strip search any person arrested on serious or minor offenses, without reasonable suspicion that the person may be concealing contraband. The case, Florence v. County of Burlington, stemmed from the 2005 New Jersey arrest of Albert Florence, an African-American who was a passenger in the car his wife was driving, when state police pulled the vehicle over to issue her a speeding ticket. When officers found that there was an outstanding warrant for Florence due to an unpaid traffic fine, he was arrested. Although records later found that the fine had been paid two years earlier, Florence was held for a week in two jails and subjected to humiliating strip-searches in each facility.