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NYRA to Weigh In on Supreme Court Cases

Written by NYRA Feb 18, 2009

NYRA is looking into filing or joining an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case, Redding v. Stafford, in which a 13-year-old female middle school student was strip searched for ibuprofen. In 2003, middle school student Savana Redding was strip searched for ibuprofen on the basis of a tip from another student. Her case is now before the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in April.

In 1985, the Supreme Court, in New Jersey v. T. L. O., ruled that a school may make a search of a student based on “reasonable suspicion,” a more lax standard that the “probable cause” standard outlined in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that the student has violated a law or school rule. The search itself must also be reasonable under the circumstances. NYRA intends to argue not only that this strip search for over-the-counter medication violated the “reasonable suspicion” standard, but that New Jersey v. T. L. O. was incorrectly argued in the first place, that a lax “reasonable suspicion” standard leaves the door open for these kinds of abuses, and that schools should be held to the stricter “probable cause” standard when conducting searches.

NYRA also intends to help organize a rally in front of the Supreme Court building similar to the one held in 2007 during the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” free speech case, this one demanding that youth be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in schools.

In addition, NYRA is getting involved in another Supreme Court case, Forest Grove School District v. T. A., this one involving a youth with “special needs” being sent to a “private school,” and who should pay for it. The “private school” in this case is actually an abusive behavior modification facility, and the student’s “special needs” are Attention Deficit Disorder and marijuana use. Together with partners, the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, NYRA hopes to write an amicus brief highlighting the abuses that occur at the private program at the center of this case.

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