Nina Totenberg’s report on All Things Considered last night on the”strip search”case heard yesterday at the Supreme Court is the only news report I can find that notes that lone woman Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was on her own at one point in the hearing:
- “At this point in the argument, a gender difference reared its head. Justice Breyer suggested that it’s no big deal when kids stripâ€“after all, they do it for gym class all the time. Savana Redding didn’t reveal her body beyond her underclothes, said Breyer. Justice Ginsburg, the court’s only female justice, bristled. Her eyes flashing with anger, she noted that there’s no dispute that Savannah was required to shake out her bra and the crotch of her panties. Ginsburg seemed to all but shout,”boys may like to preen in the locker room but girls, particularly teenaged girls, do not.”
The Washington Post report by Robert Barnes says that”Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed at times on the edge of exasperation with her all-male colleagues,”but provided no further detail. McClatchy’s article by Michael Doyle says that”Ginsburg conveyed dismay at the search’s intrusiveness,”but doesn’t report further on her views. The New York Times report, written by Adam Liptak, omits mentioning that Ginsburg was even in the room yesterday…
Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets it. And as Dahlia Lithwick noted:
When constitutional historians sit down someday to compile the definitive Supreme Court Concordance of Not Getting It, the entry directly next to Lilly Ledbetter (“Court fails utterly to understand realities of gender pay discrimination”) will be Savana Redding (“Court compares strip searches of 13-year-old girls to American Pie-style locker-room hijinks”). After today’s argument, it’s plain the court will overturn a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion finding a school’s decision to strip-search a 13-year-old girl unconstitutional. That the school in question was looking for a prescription pill with the mind-altering force of a pair of Advil:and couldn’t be bothered to call the child’s mother first:hardly matters.
The SCOTUS transcript is available here. At page 45 Justice Ginsburg says:
Mr. Wolf, one thing should be clarified. I don’t think there’s any dispute what was done in the case of both of these girls. It wasn’t just that they were stripped to their underwear. They were asked to shake their bra out, to — to shake, stretch the top of their pants and shake that out. There’s no dispute, factual dispute about that, is there?
And then on page 46 continues:
There was no dispute that they asked her to shake her pants and her bra. Nobody said that they touched — the school officials didn’t touch her, that’s a given. But they did ask her to shake out her underwear.
Warmest thanks to Nina Totenberg, Dahlia Lithwick and especially Ruth Bader Ginsburg for representing all of us, on the Court and in the media.