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The Supreme Court ruled Monday that officials can strip-search suspects arrested for minor offenses before admitting them to jails—even if there is no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.
The ruling came as part of a narrow 5-4 decision handed down against a New Jersey man who was mistakenly arrested and strip-searched twice. Justice Anthony Kennedy and the court's more conservative wing ruled that safety and security concerns outweigh an individual's right to privacy.
Here's how the New York Times explains their rationale:
[The majority] wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs but also public health and information about gang affiliations.
Kennedy penned the majority decision, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito wrote separate concurrences to emphasize the limits of the decision, stressing that the ruling applied only to those admitted to a correctional facility's general population, the Washington Post notes.
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer called strip searches "a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy." He and the more liberal members of the court argued that, based on the Fourth Amendment, strip-searches should only be allowed when officials have reasonable suspicion that a person poses a danger.
Read the full decision for Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington for more; or check out the New York Times recap here or the Washington Post story here.