The Supreme Court must decide whether an Arizona school went too far in strip-searching an eighth-grade girl for drugs.
[Editor's note: ]
Administrators at an Arizona middle school are asking the US Supreme Court to rule that they did not violate the privacy rights of an eighth-grade girl who was strip-searched in a fruitless attempt to find suspected drugs.
At issue in the case, set for argument Tuesday morning, is whether the strip search of a 13-year-old girl by school officials is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
Lawyers for the girl and her mother say it was an unconstitutional invasion of the girl's privacy. School officials say their actions were justified because they were trying to protect the student population from a risk to their health and safety.
The case could set a national standard for how far school officials can go in conducting searches of students' property – and even their bodies – while investigating alleged violations of school policies and rules.
"This is the case where the Supreme Court is likely to decide how easy it is for your child to be strip-searched," says Graham Boyd, one of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyers representing the girl and her mother.
In addition, the high court is being asked to decide whether the assistant principal who authorized the strip search can be shielded by qualified immunity from a lawsuit filed against him by the girl's mother.
Boyd and ACLU lawyer Adam Wolf say the search was based on just one unreliable accusation by a fellow student, which is not sufficient reason to justify such an intrusive search.
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