Constitution Daily

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The story behind next week’s Supreme Court strip-search case [VIDEO]

October 7, 2011 by Nicole Flatow


Update: By a vote of 5 to 4, the Supreme Court ruled on April 2, 2012 (in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders) that the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments do not bar jail officials from requiring that every detainee who will be admitted to the general population of the jail be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the rights of a New Jersey man whose drive home with his four-year-old son and pregnant wife ended in an invasive strip search at the jailhouse and seven days behind bars.

The plaintiff in this case, Albert W. Florence, tells the story of his wrongful arrest and subsequent treatment in his own words, in a podcast from the National Constitution Center and the American Constitution Society.

“He and his lawyers are not saying that prison officials should not have the right to search, even strip search, individuals who come into a criminal facility,” says Davis. “What they’re saying is there must be a reason.”

“Even thinking about it and even speaking about it still brings me, you know, chills,” Florence explains in "The Story Behind Florence v. Burlington."

Florence's lawyer, Susan Chana Lask, recalls their momentous success at the district court level challenging the jail's blanket strip-search policy, and their loss on appeal. And Angela Davis, a law professor at American University, explains just what Florence is asking the Supreme Court to decide.

Part oral history, part legal commentary, this short podcast is the first in a series that reveals the voices behind seminal Supreme Court cases. Watch Florence's story below, in advance of oral argument in the case, Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, on October 12.

[vimeo 30161234 640 360]

Nicole Flatow is the Associate Director of Communications for the American Constitution Society. To learn more visit

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