The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 April 2 in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington that a suspect's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when he was strip-searched upon entering jail. Albert Florence was arrested in New Jersey after being pulled over, when it was found that there was an outstanding warrant against him for failure to pay a fine—a non-criminal offense in the state. He produced a letter stating that he had paid the fine, but the officer made the arrest anyway. Florence was taken to a local jail where he was forced to strip naked for inspection. He was transferred to another facility a week later, and was again subjected to a strip search.
Florence filed suit, alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. The US District Court for New Jersey ruled in his favor, but the Third Circuit US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia reversed the decision. In an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit, finding that "courts must defer to the judgment of correctional officials" in such cases. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito filed concurring opinions. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, which argued that the jail's policy "would subject those arrested for minor offenses to serious invasions of their personal privacy." (Jurist, April 2)
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