Libertarian Party: “Get ready to strip for unpaid traffic ticket”

From a national Libertarian Party announcement and press release, at the LP website: here.

LP Chair: “Get Ready To Strip For Unpaid Traffic Ticket”
April 4th, 2012

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

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

Mr. Hinkle added: “Respect for individual dignity and privacy in America
must be restored. It seems like the majority of the high court has decided
to short-shrift the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which
specifically bars unreasonable searches. We call for the repeal of the USA
Patriot Act and other so-called ‘home security’ legislation that infringe
upon the rights of rank-and-file Americans.”


18 thoughts on “Libertarian Party: “Get ready to strip for unpaid traffic ticket”

  1. Kimberly Wilder Post author

    I think that folks of all political stripes will be outraged by this decision. The ACLU has put out a strong statement.

    Hope folks here may join the Limerick Contest I have started on my website, to point out the absurdity (and horror) of this decision.

    Link here:

    My Limerick on the topic:

    Five men of the court were quite rude,
    Giving rights to police very lewd.
    Well fair’s fair, I dare say.
    I’ve decided this way:
    We should make them hold court in the nude.

  2. Kimberly Wilder Post author

    I think this decision is such a historical setback for personal freedom and civil liberties. I think we should mention how all the justices voted:

    Voted FOR giving jails more rights to strip search people:

    Chief Justice John Roberts
    Justice Anthony Kennedy
    Justice Samuel Alito, Jr.
    Justice Antonin Scalia
    Justice Clarence Thomas


    Voted AGAINST (which would have protected liberty):

    Justice Stephen Breyer
    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    Justice Sonia Sotomayor
    Justice Elena Kagan

  3. Kimberly Wilder

    Paulie –

    I would be more than honored if you submitted a Limerick!

    (And, you don’t have to write them alone. We have had various Limerick teams at work!)


  4. NewFederalist

    There once were some judges from SCOTUS
    That said it was fine to unclothe us
    They said “feel away!”
    We think its okay
    I think they should hang by their scrotus!

  5. Ted Brown

    I think we are missing the big picture here. It’s understandable that the police would want to make sure there is no contraband being taken into jail. The question that Libertarians should be asking is, why are people being arrested and jailed for trivial offenses? Mr. Florence should never have been arrested for not paying a ticket. That should never be an arrestible offense. When people can be arrested for not paying some kind of fine or debt (like child support, etc), it’s like we are back to the era of debtors prisons. This is what we should be objecting to. Of course, I also oppose strip searches without probable cause, but that wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the only people going to jail were those for whom there IS probable cause that they are threats to other people.


    Ted,what is the libertarian answer to a case where someone owes restitution and refuses to pay it and the court can’t find any assets to lien or compensation to dock?

  7. Cynical in New York

    I saw something similar on Newsvine and the only response to the seed was the standard conservative badge licker response;

    “Yet another liberal reporter that can’t understand a simple ruling.

    The ruling was about safety checks on entrance to a jail or prison. Traffic tickets will result in neither. Even a DUI will only reach a holding cell and not constitute a search. Once again, this is for entrance into a jail or to a prison. This has been the law since 1979.”

  8. Ted Brown

    @8 Good question, ATBAFT:
    My grandma used to say, “You can’t get blood from a turnip.” While the person who won’t pay restitution is violating the rights of his victim, it certainly wouldn’t do any good to lock him up where he couldn’t earn much of anything. Just read some Dickens. In the court case here, it’s about money owed to the government, so there’s really no victim.


    #10, I guess if the restitution amount was small enough, and the perp was known not have any hidden assets (like keeping his $$$ in his wife’s name) then the victim may as well walk away.
    However, I seem to remember a libertarian answer being that the one owing could be put into a prison factory or some such where he could earn a reasonable wage at a job with his earnings going to cover his incarceration and to make restitution payments. Is this type of imprisonment no longer part of the catechism?

  10. Ted Brown

    @12 That brings up a slightly different issue. Restitution is definitely still part of the libertarian philosophy. The working in prison part is when the perpetrator is imprisoned for violating someone’s rights. Since he is already locked up, it is appropriate for him to work in prison industries to earn the amount due.

  11. ralph

    Neither punishment nor prisons, let alone detention for purported non-violent actions, have anything to do with Libertarianism.

    Libertarian-direction writers like Rothbard have made some speculations, but his thoughts were about a transitional society without Libertarians.

  12. paulie

    I would be more than honored if you submitted a Limerick!

    Been trying to think of one without any luck. I’ll let you know if I come up with something.

  13. paulie

    It’s understandable that the police would want to make sure there is no contraband being taken into jail.

    The big issue with contraband in jails and prisons isn’t due to people who are unexpectedly taken in for some minor “crime.” It’s due to long term inmates figuring out how to get things smuggled in through corrupt staff, visitors, incoming mail/packages, etc.

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