Tom Goldstein Mouths Off to Justice Scalia About History

October 12th, 2011

I really have no idea how Goldstein gets away with these bits:

JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Goldstein, what — what you propose is reasonable enough, I suppose, and some States could adopt that kind of a protocol instead of what they have. But what you are asserting is that the Fourth Amendment prohibits them from adopting it, and the obstacle I see is that at the time the Fourth Amendment was adopted, this — this was standard practice, to strip search people who were admitted to prisons. So how could it be deemed an unreasonable invasion of privacy when it — when it was done all the time and nobody thought it was unconstitutional?

MR. GOLDSTEIN: We don’t believe that the premise is correct. If you read history differently than me, I’m not going to be able to persuade you. But our understanding of the history is that the closest they can come to is two things: First, that people were strip searched upon arrest, and that certainly is not the rule under the Fourth Amendment; and that in certain jails at the time of the founding other inmates in a process of ablution which, as almost kind of a ritual cleansing, would strip search new inmates. It had nothing to do with the jail officials themselves or trying to intercept contraband.

JUSTICE SCALIA: That is somehow less of an intrusion on your privacy, to be naked in front of a whole bunch of inmates, rather than one jail official inspecting?

MR. GOLDSTEIN: Well, first, it wasn’t a nearly — the nearly uniform practice that I think your question assumes. And it’s just a different kettle of fish entirely, that — we don’t believe, obviously, that that historical lesson obtains today that the prisoners can strip search new inmates, new arrestees as they come in.

And this lol-tastic remark

When somebody is pulled over like Mr. Florence and there’s just — it’s laugh out loud funny to think he is smuggling in — something into this jail; that it’s too much of an intrusion to put him under the direct, you know, two feet away, I’m going to look at your genitals, as opposed to the ordinary intrusion of saying we are going to oversee the showers.