Below the Beltway: Are You Ready for Strip-Search?
WASHINGTON -- Our Supreme Court may be the most politically polarized in history. If you ask me, partisan politics have no place on the court -- unless my side has the swing vote, in which case Im fine with it. But as things stand, this is intolerable! Something must be done!
In the aggregate, this court is as magisterially aloof and conservative as Marie Antoinette, and as sharply divided. Its latest 5-4 outrage was to declare that its OK for jailers to perform a strip-search even when the suspected offense is as trivial as an unpaid traffic ticket. Sure, its nuts. But now its the law.
It was predictable, though. This is the same right-leaning court that recently found a way around a law prohibiting corporations from gaining undue political influence by spending huge amounts of money on candidates they like. Heres how the court did it: Instead of donating directly to candidates, which would be illegal, corporations now get to donate however much money they want to special super PACs, committees that exist only for the purpose of taking out ads that slime the favored candidates opponent. As loopholes go, this isnt a particularly subtle one. Its like getting around a law against punching people in the face by making it legal to operate those face-punching machines with a boxing glove on the end of a retractable spring. Youre not doing the punching, see? Youre only squeezing a handle!
All of this is based on the courts affinity for corporations, which it fervently believes, by a 5-4 vote, are basically just people with smokestacks. That means the smokestack-people get the right to free speech, same as the rest of us with noses and ears and mouths. The smokestacks put their money where their mouths would be, if they had mouths. This means the smokestack-people can spend as much money as they want on candidates who care about the same political issues that their very, very, very rich owners care about, such as affordable medical care for the poor.
Ha-ha! Just kidding! Mostly, the issue they care about is lower taxes for the very, very, very rich. The court thinks this whole situation is just swell, by a 5-4 vote.
Anyway, this same Supreme Court has now ruled that you can be compelled to get naked after any arrest that will put you into a detention facility with other prisoners. The law supposedly protects the prison population and guards from persons who might be trying to smuggle in drugs, weapons or other contraband.
This gives me an idea, a way to fight back. Bare with me here.
In a typical strip-search, the arrested person is ordered to remove his or her clothes -- which are then searched -- and is ordered to squat naked and cough. This is on the theory that contraband might be expelled from that special contraband-containment place we all have. If you ask me, a good way to protest this policy would be to follow directions precisely, exactly as commanded, doing your very best to comply, using all available resources.
Officer: Drop trou, squat and cough, maggot.
Me: Yes, sir!
Me: Oops. Sorry, officer. Feel free to inspect it for contraband!
Officer: No, thats OK. You can put on your ...
Me: No, wait, lemme try again.
I am thinking this strategy will work for a time, until the Supreme Court outlaws pooping in prison, on a 5-4 vote.
Gene Weingarten's email address is weingarten(at)washpost.com.Copyright 2012 Washington Post Writers Group