The Story Behind the Supreme Court’s Strip-Search Case

October 7, 2011

by Nicole Flatow

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the rights of a New Jersey man whose drive home with his pregnant wife and four-year-old son 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 a podcast from the National Constitution Center and the American Constitution Society.

“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.

“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.”

Part oral history, part legal commentary, this five-minute 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, Oct. 12.