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Press Release

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

LP Chair: "Get Ready to strip for unpaid traffic ticket."

WASHINGTON – The Libertarian Party denounces a U.S. Supreme Court decision, which on Monday struck down a legal complaint by a New Jersey man who was subjected to invasive strip searches after being erroneously detained on suspicion of an unpaid fine.

   The Libertarian Party warns that the 5-4 ruling, supported by conservative justices along with Anthony M. Kennedy, establishes a new judicial precedent allowing invasive searches of individuals in detention for even minor infractions or by mistake.

   “After this ruling, get ready to strip even if you have an unpaid traffic ticket,” Mark Hinkle, Libertarian Party Chair, said in a statement. “We are dismayed. This ruling sanctions new and unprecedented levels of invasion of privacy.  Never before did U.S. courts allow such an outrageous affront to human dignity with so little justification.”

   The complaint was brought by Albert W. Florence, a black New Jersey man who was arrested by state troopers in 2005 on an outstanding warrant for an unpaid fine. The police record indicating the fine was unpaid turned out later to be erroneous.  Moreover, an unpaid fine is not a crime under New Jersey law.

   However, Mr. Florence was held for a week in two different jails before the charges were dropped. He was subjected to strip searches in both institutions.

   Justice Kennedy, who wrote for the majority, argued that corrections officials “must have substantial discretion to devise reasonable solutions to the problems they face.”

   Writing for the dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the strip searches were “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy.”

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