Outrageous Court Decision Of The Week

Progress in the War Against Advil, from the always wacky Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:

Safford Middle School officials did not violate the civil rights of a 13-year-old Safford girl when they forced her to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area four years ago while looking for a drug, according to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

The justices voted 2-1 in favor of the Safford School District on Sept. 21. The decision upheld a federal district court’s summary judgement that Safford Middle School Vice Principal Kerry Wilson, school nurse Peggy Schwallier and administrative assistant Helen Romero did not violate the girl’s Fourth Amendment rights on Oct. 8, 2003, when they subjected her to a strip search in an effort to find Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug sold over the counter and in prescription strengths.


The girl’s mother filed a federal law suit against the district and Middle School officials because they forced her daughter to strip down to her underwear then move her bra and panties in such a way that her breasts and pubic area were exposed. The mother also asserts that she was not notified of the impending search.

In the opinion written by Judge Richard Clifton, “Based on the information available to them, defendants (Safford School District, Wilson, Schwallier and Romero) had ‘reasonable grounds’ for suspecting that the search of (the girl’s) person would turn up evidence that (the girl) had violated or was violating either the law or the rules of the school.”

Clifton wrote that Wilson and the others had reasonable grounds for believing the girl had Ibuprofen based on conversations with two other students.

When they outlaw Advil, only outlaws will have Advil.

H/T: Radley Balko

  • http://trumpetbob15.blogspot.com/ trumpetbob15

    I wonder if the parents can now try and get the school officials charged for statuatory rape and/or child pornography. Remember, if this student were to “willingly” do disrobe with a male student, he would end up going to jail for 10 years or more, having to always have the “sex offender” label. Seems to me there might be some sex offenders lurking in the offices of the Safford Middle School Vice Principal and School Nurse.

  • Isaac

    There are no words…

  • UCrawford


  • http://www.tfsternsrantings.blogspot.com T F Stern

    Thanks for posting this one or it would have slipped between the cracks and been missed.

    The ruling is unconscionable, that any public entity, much less a school attempting to enforce house rules, may invade and overturn basic rights of an individual without due process, without a warrant, without parental notification in this particular case sets a dangerous precedent.

  • Quincy

    Just remember, according to the modern political school of thought, one’s rights only begin when one is old enough to vote. According to the vast majority of politicians, 13-year-olds have no rights.

  • Norm Nelson

    This article has a couple of problems.

    1. Clifton was the disenting opinion in a 2-1 ruling. “I disagree, however, with the assertion that the search of (the girl’s) person was reasonable in scope,” Clifton wrote. “It was unreasonable to force (the girl), a 13-year-old girl, to expose her breasts and public area to schools officials.”

    2. In the above quote it has public rather than pubic.

    This smells like a snopes.com candidate.

    Then I found this http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/A9F35200D27AB3418825735D005314A2/$file/0515759.pdf

  • Norm Nelson

    It turns out the Advil was 400mg Ibuprofen that requires a persciption. Proof yet a gain that controling a substance only increases the curiosity value.

    It turns out all the precedents were laid down so that suspicion, supporting evidence, and a broken rule are all that is required for a strip search. In this case there were lying snitches involved as well.

    [url=www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/A9F35200D27AB3418825735D005314A2/$file/0515759.pdf]This[/url] is the ruling.