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The United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, in 2010. Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that jails do not violate privacy rights by routinely strip-searching everyone, even those arrested on minor traffic offenses.

By a 5-4 vote and splitting along conservative-liberal ideological lines, the high court ruled that privacy rights involving the searches were outweighed by security concerns by jails about a suspect hiding drugs, weapons or other contraband.

Writing the opinion for the court’s conservative majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy concluded the jail search procedures struck a reasonable balance between inmate privacy and the needs of the institution.

The decision could have broad impact as nearly 14 million Americans spend time in jail or prison every year, including an estimated 700,000 people in jail for less serious misdemeanor offenses.

Source: James Vicini for Reuters.

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