Safford v. Redding

Safford Unified School District v. Redding

What Was The Basis for This Case?

A 13 year-old girl, Savana Redding, filed a law suit against her school district in 2009, after a strip-search was conducted on her after accusations that she was carrying prescription-strength ibuprofen pills on her person. Redding, after being questioned by the male Assistant Principal, consented to having her belongings searched (i.e. her backpack and pockets). The principal, after searching her belongings and finding no evidence, sent her to the female school nurse and demanded Redding be strip-searched. The search involved Redding removing all clothes except for undergarments. Her bra was pulled to the side and shook out and the elastic bands on her underwear were pulled away as well.

The Case in Court

When Redding first filed the law suit against the school district for violating her Fourth Amendment Rights, The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ruled in favor of the school district, that no violation was conducted in the search. After this judgement, Redding appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. This court ruled in favor of Redding and the school district then brought the case to the Supreme Court, in which they also found to be in favor of Redding. They found that the strip search that was done by a school official was not legal, and was unreasonable based on the offense at hand.

Why it Matters

The ruling in this court was one that undermined some that had been made before. Some courts would have ruled in favor of the school in this case, saying that they had enough cause to search her and her belongings. This ruling by the Supreme Court led to more questioning about what the Fourth Amendment does and does not protect and how it actually affects our day to day life.