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Safford Unified School District #1 v. Redding

United States Supreme Court
557 U.S. 364 (2009)


Facts

Vice Principal Kerry Wilson discovered that students in the school were passing out prescription-strength ibuprofen and over-the-counter naproxen. These pills were common pain relievers that were equivalent to one Aleve pill. Wilson found some pills on one student, who stated that she received the pills from Savanna Redding (plaintiff). Wilson confronted Redding, and Redding denied having any knowledge of the pills. Wilson searched Redding’s backpack and did not find any more pills. Wilson then had a female school official take Redding into the school nurse’s office and perform a strip search. Redding was directed to undress down to her underwear and then pull out her bra and panties and shake them. This exposed her breasts and pelvic area. Redding described this as embarrassing, frightening, and humiliating. No pills were discovered. Redding sued the school district and several school officials (defendants) for violating the Fourth Amendment. The district court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed the claim. Redding appealed the decision, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision, finding that the search of Redding violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The defendants appealed the decision, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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Concurrence/Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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