Authorities are free to strip search any suspect they want, regardless of what that person has been arrested for, the Supreme Court ruled today, in a 5-4 decision split along the justices' usual ideological battleground. The court's conservatives, including Anthony Kennedy, ruled that strip searches might be necessary to keep contraband out of prisons, and that courts could not second-guess corrections officers who required them, according to the New York Times.
But the court's liberals, led by Stephen Breyer, argued that the searches were "a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy" and should be used only if there was a reason to believe they were necessary. The case was brought by a New Jersey man who was a passenger in a car when his wife was pulled over for speeding. Police noticed he had a warrant for an unpaid fine, and wound up holding him in jail for two weeks, strip-searching him twice. (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)