On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that police departments can now strip search literally everyone they arrest, regardless of the seriousness of the crime. The case, Florence vs. Board of Chosen Freeholders of Burlington County, was brought by Albert Florence after he was strip-searched at a New Jersey jail when the police computer erroneously showed that he had an outstanding warrant. (He had actually paid his fine several years before the officer pulled him over for a traffic offense.) The Court ruled that Mr. Florence can’t sue the government for subjecting him to a strip search.
Lest anyone get the wrong idea that a strip search isn’t that bad—that it’s just momentarily unpleasant—I should point-out how awful it is to be strip searched. The strip search takes several minutes while the guards carefully examine any place that a weapon, drugs, or other contraband could be stored. This includes inside a woman’s vagina, behind a man’s testicles, and everyone’s anus. Mr. Florence had to go through this twice, as he was moved from a first jail to a second, and he also had to endure a delousing at the first jail.
Generally, I’m of the opinion that certain Supreme Court members are deferential to police departments because they can’t picture themselves ever being subjected to the procedures they approve. But in this case, anyone can be incorrectly arrested, because that’s exactly what happened to Mr. Florence.