In a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that officials have the option to strip-search the people they arrest before admitting them to a jail regardless of the original offense or whether it is reasonable to suspect that they are carrying contraband. The two sides seemingly disagree on the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. The decision, which is opposed by many states and federal policies, has created a great controversy. However, the Supreme Court maintains that while it allows for strip-searches for everyone who is arrested, it does not require them. Instead, the Supreme Court determined that the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches does not forbid them (Liptak).
"Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed," announced Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is commonly the swing vote in these decisions, but chose to side with the conservative wing on this decision. According to Justice Kennedy, the court cannot rightfully judge a correctional officers decision on who may be smuggling dangerous weapons or drugs, as well as consider public health and information about gang affiliations (Liptak). .
The controversial decision comes just days after the Supreme Court debated President Obama's healthcare overhaul and is in direct odds with federal authority policies and at least 10 state statutes. The American Bar Association also filed a brief highlighting the fact that international human rights treaties ban strip-searches as well. The federal appeals court was unable to come to a decision, but the majority agreed that strip-searches should not be allowed unless the officer had a reasonable suspicion of contraband. While some agreed with the ultimate decision of the Supreme Court, both sides both believe that strip-searches - close visual inspection by a guard while naked - were more intrusive to a detainee's privacy than being observed while showering (Liptak).