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The Police State and the Private

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A couple things pointed out by commenters in post last week give us a chilling window into a society in which, for example, two judges routinely throwing juveniles in jail for trivial offenses without counsel is no bar to promotion unless you were actually bribed to do so. First, via Weiner, this quite chilling video in which the DA (quite rightly) being sued attempts to defend using threatened prosecutions for the horrible crime of young women sending unrevealing pictures of themselves to friends to try to force said young women to attend what seems to be some sort of winger reeducation camp.

But you haven’t gotten a full picture inside the mind of the bootlicking authoritarian until you’ve read Judge Hawkins’s dissent in Redding. Some commenters asked how strip-searching a young woman for the potential crime of possessing ibuprofen could be justified by a reasonable person. Well, apparently it can’t. But some of Hawkins’s leaps of illogic include:

  • Invoking “an incident several years before in which a Safford Middle School student brought prescription pills to school and distributed them. In that incident, a student who took that drug had to be airlifted to an intensive care unit and almost died,” while omitting what kind of prescription drugs were responsible in that case. Using a catch-all category to conflate Oxycontin and double-strength Advil opens the same kind of road to mischief as conflating mustard gas and nuclear weapons under the “WMD” rubric. (In addition to the obvious problem of using a single incident from “several years before” to justify an arbitrary serach of an individual who had nothing to do with said incident.)
  • Feeble attempts to gin up a history of wrongdoing in a student with a clean disciplinary record order to…well, it really wouldn’t justify the search anyway, but: “At the August school dance, “several staff members noticed some unusually rowdy behavior from a small group of students, including Marissa . . . and Savana Redding,” and a bottle of alcohol and a pack of cigarettes were found in the girls’ bathroom. The majority points out that the staff found no specific link between Redding and the bottle…but there is undisputed testimony that the staff detected the smell of alcohol among Redding’s small group.” So, there was some pretty flimsy evidence that some members of a group Redding was involved with may have imbibed some liquor at a school dance. Well, I’m convinced!
  • Read carefully through the assertions that the fact that the first search conducted on the basis of a self-interested, uncorroborated informant turned up bupkis somehow made it all the more necessary to conduct a further search. Presumably, it would have also been reasonable to proceed to a full cavity search after the strip search turned up nothing, and then after than produced nothing maybe torturing a confession out of her would have done the trick.
  • And, finally, in a passage noted by the commenter and which Justice Alito’s clerks have probably already cut-and-pasted, this Bush-era classic: “The majority favors the term “strip search” to describe a search that took place in a closed office with only a female school nurse and female administrator present, and began with Redding removing her jacket, shoes, socks, pants and shirt, and continued with her pulling her bra and shaking it, partially exposing her breasts, and pulling her underwear away from her body and shaking it, partially exposing her pelvic area. I would reserve the term “strip search” for a search that required its subject to fully disrobe in view of officials, and I think it is useful to maintain the distinction so that we can distinguish such searches from the one in this case.” Yes, how outrageous of the majority to describe a situation in which a student was forced to disrobe by administrators [because of exceedingly flimsy evidence that she had committed a trivial offense] as a “strip search.” Hawkins must be happy to know that if he leaves the bench there’s a position waiting for him at Boalt Hall
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