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Parry writes: "Last week, the five Republican partisans who control the US Supreme Court were all about protecting American 'liberties' against the threat of compulsory broccoli purchases. This week, they are defending the rights of prison guards to strip search a nun arrested in an anti-war protest or a black guy who got nabbed by mistake for not paying a fine that he had actually paid."

The Supreme Court has authorized the police to conduct strip searches after any arrest. (photo: Ken Light)
The Supreme Court has authorized the police to conduct strip searches after any arrest. (photo: Ken Light)



GOP Five Like Stripping Americans

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

03 April 12

 

ast week, the five Republican partisans who control the U.S. Supreme Court were all about protecting American "liberties" against the threat of compulsory broccoli purchases. This week, they are defending the rights of prison guards to strip search a nun arrested in an anti-war protest or a black guy who got nabbed by mistake for not paying a fine that he had actually paid.

But the Court's strip-search ruling on Monday was more about the future than the past. One could almost see the GOP Five rubbing their hands together at the prospect of mass strip searches of young men and women arrested for challenging corporate greed in Occupy protests. Perhaps the justices would like to take a page from Rush Limbaugh's playbook and suggest the videos be posted online so they could watch.

"Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the Republican majority.

Of course, the justices don't expect that they and their powerful friends would ever be subjected to such humiliation. That's more for the lesser beings - or those with lesser money - especially those who find themselves disproportionately tossed into America's massive prison system: the poor, the minorities and the protesters.

The GOP Five's 5-4 ruling was so extreme that it even caused the usually solicitous New York Times to note that "the procedures endorsed by the majority are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and are at odds with the policies of federal authorities. According to a … brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also bar the procedures."

What the GOP Five's ruling means for average Americans is that they can have their private parts and body cavities inspected by prison guards after arrests for even the most non-violent of charges, such as "violating a leash law, driving without a license and failing to pay child support," the Times reported.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer noted in his dissenting opinion that people have been subjected to "the humiliation of a visual strip-search" after getting arrested for a noisy muffler, not using a turn signal and not having a proper bell on a bicycle. Breyer also noted that a nun was strip-searched after getting arrested for trespassing in an anti-war protest.

But the GOP Five would have none of that human rights stuff, continuing with their disconnected logic to reach rulings that fit their ideological bent. For instance, Justice Kennedy noted that "one of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks was stopped and ticketed for speeding just two days before hijacking Flight 93."

What the prejudicial 9/11 reference had to do with strip-searching someone whose dog runs off leash or whose bicycle bell doesn't work might not be readily apparent to anyone who doesn't spend the day watching Fox News - unless Kennedy thinks that strip-searching everyone who gets a speeding ticket might prevent another 9/11.

The Naked Plaintiff

Albert W. Florence, the African-American plaintiff who lost in the Supreme Court's ruling, was subjected to two strip searches in 2005 after his wife, April, was pulled over for speeding. Though Florence was in the passenger seat, he was arrested when a police records search discovered an outstanding warrant against him for an unpaid fine (which had actually been paid).

Before the clerical error was corrected, Florence was detained for a week, held in two jails which each required a strip search. He was forced to stand naked in front of a guard who made him lift his penis and testicles so they could be examined. Then, Florence said, he was ordered to turn around, squat cough and spread his cheeks to expose his anus.

The GOP Five claimed the extensive use of strip searches was necessary to provide security in the nation's massive prison complex, which holds millions of detainees. But strip searches also would give authorities a powerful psychological weapon to use against protesters, like those who have participated in Occupy Wall Street and related demonstrations around the country.

The GOP Five's latest ruling also undercuts their posturing last week during hearings on the Affordable Care Act when they presented themselves as principled defenders of American "liberties" by signaling a readiness to strike down the individual health insurance mandate at the center of a law aimed at providing near universal health-care coverage for Americans.

During those oral arguments, Republican justices demanded that U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. define a "limiting principle" to the Constitution's Commerce Clause (though the Framers included none when they wrote the document in 1787). Justice Antonin Scalia wondered if Congress also could mandate that Americans buy broccoli; Justice Samuel Alito worried about burial insurance.

Although the individual mandate originated as a conservative idea from the right-wing Heritage Foundation and was applied against health-care "free riders" by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, it suddenly became a tyrannical infringement on American "liberties" when embraced by Democratic President Barack Obama.

At one point in last week's oral arguments, Justice Scalia let his right-wing ideology peak out from under his black robes when he dressed down Verrilli for noting that the United States has accepted the principle of providing emergency medical treatment for a person who is injured or stricken with a sudden illness.

"We've obligated ourselves so that people get health care," Verrilli said in the context of explaining that those costs then get passed on as higher premiums charged to Americans who have health insurance. Scalia answer to the dilemma was, "well, don't obligate yourself to that," in other words just let the person suffer or die.

Again, it might be noted that Scalia and his well-to-do friends would not be the ones dumped on sidewalks outside hospitals, but rather the lesser people, i.e. those with lesser money.

Yet, after a week of posing as brave libertarians protecting Americans from President Obama's health-care reform, the GOP Five quickly reverted to form as defenders of abusive state power, with their minds likely filled with visions of naked young anti-Wall Street protesters - male and female - forced to bend over and expose their genitals.


For more on related topics, see Robert Parry's "Lost History," "Secrecy & Privilege" and "Neck Deep," now available in a three-book set for the discount price of only $29. For details, click here.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, "Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush," was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, "Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq" and "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'" are also available there.

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+40 # Olenska 2012-04-03 16:57
I want to see all five of those justices stripped naked on national television and forced to bend over and "spread their cheeks" to all of America. No other punishment for this outrage will satisfy me.
 
 
+8 # RMDC 2012-04-04 04:51
Olenska -- that would be a punishment for all of us. I don't want to see them at all -- naked or clothed. They are revolting and disgusting in all cases.
 
 
0 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-04 11:19
I want the magic wanf on them too.
 
 
+46 # dascher 2012-04-03 17:18
When most citizens are treated as criminal suspects, that is called a "Police State". I know that if I am ever threatened with a strip search after an arbitrary arrest I will make it clear that my religion forbids me to participate in a strip search. The wise authoritarian (not 'conservative') Supreme Court Justices will have no choice but to defer to my religious beliefs and practices.
 
 
+7 # Stephanie Remington 2012-04-04 00:45
You may argue that, but they'll get their way and if your protest ever ends up at the level of the SCOTUS they will -- as they've repeatedly done during their tenure -- ignore precedent, law, common sense, and decency to make their forgone ruling.
 
 
+4 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-04 11:21
Maybe the applicant's lawyers presenting the case should have demonstrated the procedure for the Justices...you know line, drop thier panys bend over and show the justices thier anuses!
 
 
0 # Anarchist 23 2012-04-05 12:03
Quoting dascher:
I know that if I am ever threatened with a strip search after an arbitrary arrest I will make it clear that my religion forbids me to participate in a strip search. The wise authoritarian (not 'conservative') Supreme Court Justices will have no choice but to defer to my religious beliefs and practices.

R U Serious? If you believe that-I have a great bridge to sell you, cheap!
 
 
+4 # dascher 2012-04-05 14:45
It's usually called 'tongue in cheek' but perhaps I should avoid the possible misunderstandin g that phrase might engender.

It was a sarcastic statement based upon the the deference this court has shown to a broad variety of 'protected' behaviors due to 'religious belief'. It appears to be one of the few things about which these authoritarian justices are consistent.

It might be more helpful if I looked like Romney's boys and was a Mormon. Mormons can't remove their holy undergarments except for sex (with their spouse, of course) and swimming or bathing.
 
 
+19 # Capn Canard 2012-04-03 20:50
Police state?
 
 
+6 # spercepolnes 2012-04-03 23:20
USA, your society, it seems, is rapidly approaching the point where it is totally f****d!
I feel for you.
Unfortunately, there is a nasty habit of foreign (western) governments following your lead....... then we are all stuffed!.......
Is there an answer out there other than total armed uprising?
I wish I knew.
 
 
0 # Anarchist 23 2012-04-05 12:06
Is your country offering refugee status to people caught here in the Fascist takeover? I need some more options for getting the hell out.
 
 
+12 # amye 2012-04-04 00:27
Well, I'm glad folks are finally waking up to the fact that we live in a fascist country! Unfortunately it may be too late to reverse this now, but we can try! Power to OWS!!!
 
 
+1 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-04 11:23
Germany was facist...people can power reform.
 
 
+3 # Stephanie Remington 2012-04-04 00:40
See Glenn Greenwald's citation of several sources:
"The Obama DOJ formally urged the Court to reach the conclusion it reached."

"The Obama administration is siding with the prisons in the case and urging the court to allow a blanket policy for all inmates set to enter the general prison population."

"“When you have a rule that treats everyone the same,” Justice Department lawyer Nicole A. Saharsky argued, “you don’t have folks that are singled out. You don’t have any security gaps.”"

“The decision was a victory for the jails and for the Obama administration, which argued for an across-the-boar d rule allowing strip-searches of all those entering the general jail population, even those arrested on minor offenses.”

"This evidence suggesting that minor offenders are not smuggling contraband into jails was not good enough for the Obama administration, which is asking the Supreme Court to endorse the restrictive strip search policy in Florence. At oral argument, a lawyer for the Obama Justice Department told the Supreme Court that “[p]rotesters…w ho decide deliberately to get arrested… might be stopped by the police, they see the squad car behind them. They might have a gun or contraband in their car and think hey, I’m going to put that on my person, I just need to get it somewhere that is not going to be found during a patdown search, and then potentially they have the contraband with them.”"
 
 
+3 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-04 11:26
So you are saying that minor offenders hide guns under thier genitals? Really? Stick the gun up thier ass? Really?

In this day and age of body scanners, maybe prisoners should be run through airport security. Make the TSA deal with "real criminals"...
 
 
+1 # Stephanie Remington 2012-04-04 12:31
I'm not saying this. These are quotes from the Obama Justice Department.

I'm outraged by this and frustrated by all the discussion of how bad the GOP justices are (which is true) without any discussion about how bad the Obama administration is for the future of democracy.
 
 
+1 # Anarchist 23 2012-04-05 12:09
Alas-the Rape-I Scanners don't penetrate beyond the skin. It has been shown that you can stick a vial of thermite up your ass and hide a fuse beneath your tongue and not get caught. This was reported in the Atlantic Monthly in an article about the farce of airport security, I believe, some time last year where among other things an experiment was carried out by some Germans demonstrating this.
 
 
+6 # angelfish 2012-04-04 01:32
"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress". -Frederick Douglas, American Abolitionist. That just about says it all. When Americans have had ENOUGH of this Bull-Puckey, the Country will return to our Founder's original vision of Liberty and Justice for ALL!
 
 
+5 # Valleyboy 2012-04-04 02:14
"with their minds likely filled with visions of naked young anti-Wall Street protesters - male and female - forced to bend over and expose their genitals."

Ha ha ha, you've hit the nail on the head!
I include Limbaugh & male anti-abortion legislators in those slobbering over naked mental images of their young victims.
 
 
+8 # James Klimaski 2012-04-04 07:55
None of the examples the Supreme court's rightwing gave hold water. So one of the 9/11 highjackers got a speeding ticket, what has that got to do with strip searching? He wasn't arrested. Timothy McVeigh was stopped for not having a license plate on his car. He wasn't strip searched initially, but when he was later held as a suspect in the Oklahoma bombing he was. But he had no contraband on him. The prison guards' fear that someone arrested for a minor traffic violation did so for the purpose of smuggling contraband into the prison is absolutely absurd. But that is the kind of thinking you get for crypto-fascists . With the new law supported by the Democrats in Congress and signed by Obama, any U.S. citizen can now be arrested and held without formal charges indefinitely. The Bill of rights, except for the 2nd amendment, is now just about dead.
 
 
+6 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2012-04-04 10:04
Excellent post. HAD the 9/11 hijacker been strip searched, nothing would have been found — they weren't carrying box-cutters in their body cavities — a background check and cross-intellige nce would have stopped them, not a strip search. What utter NONSENSE from supposedly logical deliberators!

The Constitution was written to protect the rights of individuals, not to make it easier for the government to incarcerate individuals.
 
 
+2 # Anarchist 23 2012-04-05 12:13
Don't forget to mention that at least 7 of the accused hijackers are currently alive and well and living in the Middle East-mostly Saudi Arabia. If the 'Official History' is correct we are up against Voledemort and his Death Eaters using magical Fiend Fyre to melt steel (because ordinary mortals have to use blast furnaces)or it was just a false flag operation to destroy the Middle East and liberties here in this country and around the world. Looks like the plot succeeded quite well.
 
 
+3 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-04 11:27
Let Obama apply the new law to the 5 justices voting for the searches...then they could get a real "feel" for it.
 
 
+9 # brianf 2012-04-04 08:50
We have 5 very sick people in our highest court. I now understand why they think corporations are people, it is because they themselves are sub-human.
 
 
+2 # rogermeister 2012-04-04 12:32
These five justices are mentally ill.
 
 
+4 # Dave_s Not Here 2012-04-04 13:47
Why does anyone want to live in a country like that?

Why aren't the decent Americans fleeing before it's too late for them?
 
 
+1 # Anarchist 23 2012-04-05 12:16
Quoting Dave_s Not Here:
Why does anyone want to live in a country like that?

Why aren't the decent Americans fleeing before it's too late for them?

I'm just staying here until the dog dies-then I will try to get out with my cats-I owe it to my animal family even if I put my own life in danger. I have known for years-even decades-that this would happen. I have prepared for it. My only weakness-my fur people!
 
 
-1 # Dave_s Not Here 2012-04-04 13:51
Its your American social system and educational system that has spawned these creatures.

It may not yet be too late to turn it around provided that the decent and right-thinking citizens can somehow get control.
 
 
+3 # papabob 2012-04-04 16:59
This "insult" by the Gang of Five seems to be still another attempt to dissuade a person at a OWS from protesting and getting arrested.
But, there's another way of looking at this. If you showed your bare butt to a policeman "guarding" you, you'd be arrested, right?
Well, now as a result of the latest decision, the police are REQUIRED to look at your naked butt.
Isn't this a great country?
 
 
+1 # infohiway 2012-04-05 03:11
'American justice': cruel AND unusual?
GUILTY AS CHARGED! No two ways about it.
UN-constitutional terrorism.
ZOMBIES AND MIND CONTROL:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7uU2Yal22-E#!
 
 
+1 # infohiway 2012-04-05 03:58
"Constitutional ly":
Tasered,
Dazzled,
Micro-Waved,
Sonic-Blasted,
Stripped Naked,
Cavity Searched,
Beaten, Shot and Terrorized?

Now ain't de-mock-racy just grand in the:
Land of the fee and the home of the slave, ZOMBIES and MIND CONTROL?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7uU2Yal22-E#!
 

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