This piece was provoked by the Supreme Court's appalling behavior during oral argument in Safford v. Redding. It was also inspired by Dahlia Lithwick's wonderful piece in Slate entitled "Search Me." Safford involves the strip-search of a 13-year-old girl during her school day, a search authorized by officials at Safford Middle School in Safford, Arizona. The search was based on the unsubstantiated claim by another student that Ms. Redding possessed extra-strengh Tylenol. Ms. Redding was, of course, sitting in the audience of the burgundy-draped, gold-trimmed courtroom, so she was humiliated all over again, this time by the august body we now ironically call the Supreme Court. Too bad one of these clowns isn't retiring instead of Souter.
We, representatives of FOCUS ("Freaked Out Citizens of the United States") (hereinafter "Petitioners") hereby petition this Body for strip searches of the following members of the United States Supreme Court: Justice Antonin Scalia; Justice Stephen Breyer; Justice Clarence Thomas; Justice Samuel Alito: and Chief Justice John Roberts. This request is based on the Court’s recent behavior during oral argument in Safford Unified School District v. Redding. It is also supported by the Court’s recent history of bizarre and specious rulings that belie some underlying cause that may be found in the Justices’ undergarments.
Petitioners do not make this request lightly. We are aware that the Court’s own precedent (New Jersey v. T.L.O.) requires "reasonable grounds" for such a search, and that the search "cannot be excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the [self-important asshole]." However, we must stress that this issue regards SAFETY, an issue that takes precedence over all issues of privacy and dignity in today’s America. If even one person may be harmed in even the most unlikely and paranoid scenario, then the people "in charge" MUST be allowed to act with all due speed and without consideration (footnote 1).
While Ms. Redding had no record of misbehavior, the same cannot be said for members of the Court. In Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000), the Court essentially chose the POTUS on the basis of an utterly specious Equal Protection argument, which even the most conservative legal scholars have dismissed as baffling. We need not revisit the nightmarish physical and psychological harm that ensued from this ruling. We admit that professionals in the field of comedy reaped some reward, but that benefit does not outweigh the harm to the rest of the world. In Ledbetter v.Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, 550 U.S. 98 (2000), the majority opinion, written by Samuel Alito, held that Ms. Ledbetter "could have, and should have, sued" for discriminatory pay decisions within Title VII’s 180-day "charging period," despite the fact that the Plantiff did not know of those decisions, and also despite the fact, noted by dissenter Ginburg, that the discriminatory acts continued well into the 180-day period. Another stumper.
Perhaps the Court’s behavior in the Redding oral argument hints at an explanation. The argument reads like a bad Judd Apatow script. What besides extensive drug use would explain Justice Breyer’s rantings: "In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, OK? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear."
This bizarre statement was met with explosive laughter ESPECIALLY ON THE PART OF CLARENCE THOMAS. I repeat, Justice Thomas, evidently, could not stop laughing. Breyer, embarrassed, continued: "Or not my underwear. Whatever. Whatever. I was the one who did it? I don't know. I mean, I don't think it's beyond human experience."
Then there is Justice Roberts’ response to ACLU lawyer Wolf’s observation that hiding drugs in underpants has a certain "ick" factor: "Maybe I'm -- maybe I'm not articulating this. You keep focusing on the fact that it's unlikely that the pills would be concealed in her underpants. That doesn't go to the brassiere at all, which doesn’t seem as outlandish as the underpants, right?" Need we remind this Body that this statement was made in a public forum?
Justice Alito also takes a walk on the wild side when he says of the young woman whose uncorroborated statement led to the search that perhaps "the school could keep records on its students, like the police keep records on confidential informants, so unless this student had a proven record of having accurately ratted out a certain number of classmates in the past, she couldn't be believed." Perhaps Mr. Alito slipped into a drug-induced delusion and thought he was ruling on an episode of "24."
Perhaps most damning, however, is Justice Scalia’s behavior. Scalia asked Matthew Wright, the school district’s lawyer, why black magic markers are considered contraband. Wright replied, "Well, for sniffing!" "They sniff them? Really?" responded Scalia, in evident delight. We can only surmise that black - indeed, any color - magic markers will be the vehicle for Justice Scalia’s next foray into altered consciousness. For those of you who still doubt that Scalia has engaged in such forays, consider his chortling statement, "You’ve searched everywhere else. By God, the drugs must be in her underpants." The record speaks for itself.
The magic marker issue brings us to a further request. Given the size and shape of such markers, we ask that this Body authorize body cavity searches. We realize that this type of search is quite intrusive, but what the hell? Guys get undressed in locker rooms all the time don’t they? Also, an uncorroborated source has informed us that Justices Scalia and Thomas keep their heads up their asses most of the time anyway, so this should be not be unduly burdensome to them.
We ask for all due speed in this decision, as the Court is slated to issue a ruling in the Redding case in July. Also, for the sake of balance and equity, we suggest that Ms. Redding work with Justice Ginsberg to define the manner and scope of the search.
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg describes such scenarios in her dissent in PGA TOUR, INC. v. Martin, 532 U.S. 661, 687 (2001): "Notwithstanding nightmarish images of out-of-control flatware, livestock run amok, and colliding tubas disturbing the peace and quiet of Tecumseh, the great majority of students the School District seeks to test in truth are engaged in activities that are not safety sensitive to an unusual degree. There is a difference between imperfect tailoring and no tailoring at all."