Recent SCOTUS rulling on individual rights
Excerpt from the article:
A 1985 Supreme Court decision that dealt with searching a student’s
purse had found that school officials need only reasonable suspicions,
not probable cause. But that ruling also warned against a search that
was "excessively intrusive."
"What was missing from the
suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to
the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any
reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear,"
Justice David Souter wrote in Thursday’s majority opinion.
"We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable."
now in college, said she was pleased with the court’s decision. "I’m
pretty excited about it, because that’s what I wanted," she said. "I
wanted to keep it from happening to anybody else."
decision sends a clear signal to school officials that they can strip
search students only in the most extraordinary situations," said her
lawyer, Adam Wolf of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.
a dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said the search had been legal and
the court previously had given school officials "considerable leeway"
under the Fourth Amendment in school settings.
In this case,
officials had searched the girl’s backpack and found nothing, Thomas
said. "It was eminently reasonable to conclude the backpack was empty
because Redding was secreting the pills in a place she thought no one
would look," he said.
Thomas warned that the majority’s
decision could backfire. "Redding would not have been the first person
to conceal pills in her undergarments," he said. "Nor will she be the
last after today’s decision, which announces the safest place to
secrete contraband in school."
I read about these things and I’m immediately outraged that
any institution can violate our rights in this way. But in this case I’m especially outraged that our educational institutions propagate this form of rights violations. These are the institutions where the minds of
these impressionable youngsters are being formed to become patterns of
obedience within institutions where they will perform their societal duties as
adults, the opposite attitude needed for an open, questioning minded populace
needed to self govern in a democracy.
My outrage is deep and its from the heart. I’m sure the rational conservative mind would
quickly identify that with feelings, eliminating immediately my life long
intellectual struggle to make sense of social issues, like the sanctity of the
individual within the complex legal definitions we generalize as simply our
modern, free "society."
In reading this case, I’m primarily concerned about the
immediate disregard I recognize from the initial incident for the right of the
child to its individual sanctity. This
basic concern gets translated into a legal argument, and in the process, the
actual fact of the individual’s outrage at this violation to herself is utterly
dismissed. Thus the very personal basis
for one’s individuality is ignored in what becomes a tribal disagreements over
the fine points of the law. The young
woman’s individual sanctity was violated by authoritarians who acted on their
suspicions in this violative (and by extension, violent) manner and yet I hear
not a peep from the conservative enablers of their pet Justice’s agreement with
the rights of institutions to violate a child.
Instead I hear the typical excusism, and charges that this SC justice is
some sort of political target. These are ironically the same conservatives who
foment their passion in a general sense for individual rights and personal
responsibility, but somehow miss the specifics, like an actual application to
the individual, when they come up.
Then, and not to be overlooked, in a broader and more
extended contextual sense, I’m awakened to my other concerns about individual
sanctity. Those are the concerns I’ve
personally been battling most of my life as I find I do need to take matters in
hand to preserve what I feel are my rights for myself. Those are then concerns for me about the long
term effect on the society I live in every day as these patterns of acceptance
for the rights of institutions to dominate the individual are embedded into the
consciousness of my fellow citizens. And
then I find myself looking at a blank face when I express my concern from my
own rights. Especially if it’s a
bureaucrat on the other side of a counter, be it a private bureaucrat in a
corporate institution or one of supposedly my own employees in a government
For that is the pattern being excused here. A child’s individuality was dismissed in an
institutional setting, and legal recourse was the next step to right a
wrong. We are all that child when
our own individuality is snubbed and ignored in any institutional setting. So…. here we can see a pattern, a pattern
of pernicious excusism for the society’s institutions and their legally
instituted agents to maintain the legal right to violate and dominate the
individual’s rights. And with that goes
all this dancing around, when the matter is quite simple and innately outrageous,
if anyone has a semblance of their sense of individuality left by adulthood.
And with this societal acceptance we get the attitude of institutional
domination programmed into the population at an early age, and with that the
very questioning of the heart of the matter becomes a trite and heartless
The good news is when the law was questioned on this
it took the Supreme Court to finally recognize the violation was maybe somehow
a little extreme in this case.
The argument that ANY state, a nation state or an individual
state, has this right to violate an individual in this way outrages me. I’ve never got over it. How can anyone who believes in individual
rights find a justification for that violation of rights? How many specific examples have to be defined
by state and national law before the individual becomes truly protected from
society’s institutions? This constant
defense of formalist legal theory that supports institutionalism is deeply
authoritarian in nature, yet how can we come to actually discuss this issue
with the very people who self proclaim they are the defenders of individuality
in this society, and anyone who disagrees with them is by tautological
definition simply wrong?
Consistent with right wing authoritarian extremism, I see
that many self proclaimed conservatives, and thereby defenders of individual rights, won’t any concern for the long term
effects of authoritarian attitudes on the impressionable children they
willingly send off to be programmed by these institutions, and by extension,
programmed by the government, which they normally hate if it happens to have
any effect on their right to make extra dollar or two in their private
businesses. Hypocritically, then, we see
them siding with those operating in state sanctioned institutions who are quite
willing to take the rights of children away in the name of maintaining order in
their institution, be it a prison or a imprisoning institution for children,
called a public school. After all, these
institutions do program these individuals so they can perform as directed in
all sorts of institutions in adulthood, even the ones they operate as business
owners. Last thing a business owner
wants is a non compliant, independent minded worker who hasn’t learned to
follow orders without question of the consequences.
Indeed, we see how in a pinch, maintaining order becomes the
higher level of concern when an individual’s rights are on the line. We find them then alluding to some archaic
concept that a state can violate individual rights even if in doing so it
doesn’t quite square with our nationally Constituted protection of individual
rights, which they are more than willing to send their armies off to protect in
other countries where those rights aren’t being protected, Indeed, lets wipe
out Iran next, shall we?
Meanwhile the conservative, formalist theory defending a SCOTUS
justice in dissent does in fact demonstrate that they and he agree with an
institutionally imbued right to taking those rights of privacy away, as long as
it’s in an institutional setting, thereby demonstrating their own amazingly
mind bending pretzel logic in pretending concern for individual liberties where
operating their businesses is concerned, while deep in their souls they approve
of authoritarian measures we find in our institutions — whether they occur in
state run institutions or on private property.
The joke’s on anyone who allows this self righteous
rhetorical blather on individual rights to pass muster, as if those who blather
are actually honest about those concerns. Step back and maybe see
that their concerns are at base a throwback to the attitudes we find in those
ancient Medieval, patriarchal, and feudal institutions we’ve been struggling to
leave in the Dark Ages, from which we have not yet entirely emerged.