The recent US Supreme Court ruling allowing for suspects of even the most minor, nonviolent crimes to be strip-searched is — on a political level — outrageous, and on a personal level it is twisted and smarmy. Quite literally, it perverts an already sick justice system.
Watch out for unpaid parking tickets, because if you have racked up enough for a warrant to be issued, you could be stripped buck naked upon being taken into custody and intimately eyeballed by any police or jailers afraid you have a weapon stashed on your person. The delights of a cavity search, however, will require another warrant.
This means you, grandma and grandpa; you, Mr. and Mrs. Family-Folk, living in the suburbs with two cars and a dog; you, boys and girls 18 years of age or older; and, of course, all of you with darker skin, who are already arrested with punishing frequency — often on suspicion of just not being white.
Now, all citizens (innocent and guilty, wanted or not), all green-card holders, all illegal aliens, all foreign visitors stand naked before, if not the law, then the police. Call it the New American Melting Pot, 21st-century style.
The absurdity and injustice of all of this is driven home by the case that sparked the decision.
In 2005, Albert W. Florence was sitting in the passenger seat of his BMW when the vehicle (driven by his wife, April) was pulled over for speeding by state police in New Jersey.
Florence was taken into custody because police found he was wanted for an unpaid fine.
Florence was held for a week in two jails.
At each, Florence was required to shed his clothes, squat, cough, and spread his cheeks, as well as lift his testicles to ensure that his scrotum was weapons free.
Florence was eventually released when it was determined that he had, in fact, already paid his fine. Oops.
Florence is an African American. Before the Supreme Court's strip-search decision, Florence's case could have been used to illustrate the shoddy state of judicial record keeping, or the predilection of too many in law enforcement to treat anyone with dark skin more suspiciously or harshly than white people.
But not today. Nudity is a great equalizer. If you're taken into custody, you can be compelled to spread your buttocks.
This piece of legal genius is the handiwork of the five Republican-appointed justices. The four justices appointed by Democrats objected.
Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy — considered by many to be merely conservative, as opposed to right-wing like his four GOP compatriots — noted that Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was first arrested for driving without a license.
That, Kennedy reasoned, is why it is vital to treat all suspected of anything as if they were committed political terrorists or psychopaths.
We're all McVeighs now — if we cross the cops. The presumption of innocence is as mythical as a fig leaf.
It's no surprise that the Republican justices should take such a warped view of all this. The GOP, after all, is the party of the heavy breathers with hairy palms.
Consider the track record.