Memo to Justice Kennedy et al

U.S. Supreme Court building.
U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Even peace may be purchased at too high a price.
First, apologies to my readers for reversing my previously stated intention not to share political opinions. I have a hard enough time writing conflict for my characters, and opening myself to the possibility of attack by those who will not agree with me is the stuff of my personal nightmares. I don’t plan to indulge in other political rants, but the Supreme Court’s decision to allow strip searches for people arrested even for minor crimes really, really, really hit a nerve.

The issue was whether a jail’s blanket policy of strip searches for all suspects arrested is constitutional. Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Thomas must believe that public safety always trumps personal privacy. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, that strip searches improperly “subject those arrested for minor offenses to serious invasions of their personal privacy.”

Okay, boys (the five Justices who voted in the majority were male) here are a few thoughts from a citizen. You know, one of the people you just said it’s okay to strip search without reasonable cause even if I’m arrested for a minor offense and am not under observation for criminal activity.

First, I am not anti-cop. Most law enforcement personnel are decent men and women whose goal is to make it to end of their shift alive. Too many of them don’t. In arrests involving drugs, weapons, or someone who is suspected of major crimes, strip searches on incarceration make sense. My problem is that the majority opinion in this case removes an important protection against unreasonable searches from those of us who habitually uphold the law.

Nor am I anti-nudity. I write highly sensual romances. My characters get naked. The point is, they get naked when they want to, unless they are being threatened by the bad guy. Rape in main-stream romance went out years ago, because like in real life, a good romance heroine knows when she’s being abused.

The choice to remove clothes is highly personal. When that choice is taken away and one is forced to strip, it is humiliating and degrading. In fact, before your collective brain fart on Monday, forcing someone to take their clothes off was considered a form of sexual harassment. Now, it it’s what? Our tax dollars at work?

I am decidedly anti-people-touching-or-looking-at-me-without-my-permission. I’ve been this way ever since my 8th grade science teacher pinched my ass in front of the entire class. Everyone else thought this was hysterically funny, but my first impulse (regrettably, one I didn’t give in to) was to break the jerk’s pointer across his face. Let’s just say I’m still mad.

The TSA’s policy of public gropage in the name of security is bad enough. It seriously squicks me out six ways from Sunday. I am going to have to fly somewhere eventually, but I dread strangers touching zones that should be reserved for my husband in the privacy of our home. I’d rather go through the pornoscanner. Or even strip down to my skivvies in line if it will keep people I don’t know from handling body  parts about which I am highly territorial.

It’s not that I’d feel any less humiliated, it’s simply a matter of which revolting experience gave me more control in the long run. Being forced to strip by someone carrying a weapon, even another female, makes my blood run cold. In the ‘someone is going to pay for this’ way. And that would be unfair to both parties in this scenario. I shouldn’t be forced to remove my clothes for something as trivial as a bench warrant or unpaid fine, and she shouldn’t have to force me to do so.

What’s next? Are we going to change the national anthem from ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to ‘Bow chika bow bow’? Come on, Kennedy & Co. You are all judicial scholars and you can do better. The decision you handed down Monday is wrong, just as Dred Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson were wrong.  Man up and fix it.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin


2 thoughts on “Memo to Justice Kennedy et al

  1. We live in a world where reality and fantasy are blurred, the threshold sometimes involves the promise of 20 virgins, released with explosives in shoes, strapped in fake blubber around one’s waist, or stashed in a wazoo. Is it any wonder that the police fear a deadly attack by a jaywalker, parking ticket collector, or shoplifter? The nightly news is full of graphic films where one person took out half a market full of people.

    The problem is that we live in the United States of America and should have protection under the law. Citizens rights are crumbling, along with our government services. The danger in degrading laws is the temptation for lawmen to abuse them.

    If you don’t speak out about this, no one else will.


    1. Thanks for visiting, Mary. You make a good point, and it’s hard to distinguish between fears and reality. But better to scrutinize our fears and act accordingly than try to take a ‘one size fits all’ approach that eliminates initiative and logical thought.


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