POL 303-Assignment Wk 4
POL 303-Assignment Wk 4
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Date Created: 11/09/15
Ferguson v City of Charleston 1 Ferguson V City of Charleston Sandy Diaz Echon POL 303 Will Curcio June 18 2011 Ferguson v City of Charleston 2 In the case Ferguson V City of Charleston in the year 1989 it was found that pregnant women were being arrested for the use of cocaine if their baby tested positive for the drug This case was thought to be in violation of the fourth amendment which is The right of the people to be secure in their persons houses papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized How it began was a task force that was made up at MUSC of local police officials and members of the staff of a public hospital in Charleston South Carolina developed a policy for identifying and testing pregnant patients suspected of drug use Those who tested positive were either arrested or threatened with arrest to induce them to undergo a treatment for drug abuse It had also been stated that police could arrest them for the crimes of possession of drugs child neglect or distribution of drugs to a person under eighteen The searches were conducted only at MUSC the one hospital in Charleston where the patient population was lowincome and AfricanAmerican The petitioners of this case consisted of 10 women whom were former obstetrical patients that were arrested after their babies tested positive The Center decided to file a suit 0 the women s behalf because they thought that this was an unconstitutional search and seize These women did not consent for this procedure to be done During the course of this trial the jury was instructed that it would be an unjust seize and search if the procedure was not consented The jury found in favor of the city In avowing the Ferguson v City of Charleston 3 Court of Appeals held that the searches were reasonable reasoning that special needs may in certain exceptional occurrences justify a search policy designed to oblige nonlawenforcement ends In the final conclusion it was a 63 judgment delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens the Court held that the diagnostic tests constituted an unreasonable search if the patient has not consented to the procedure The interest in using the threat of criminal affirmations to discourage pregnant women from using cocaine cannot justify a different approach from the general rule that an official nonconsensual search is unconstitutional if not authorized by a valid warrant Examining the quotspecial needsquot exception to the Fourth Amendment Justice Stevens wrote that a special need is quotdivorced from the State39s general interest in law enforcementquot and that under the city39s standpoint quotvirtually any nonconsensual suspicion less search could be immunized under the special needs doctrine by defining the search solely in terms of its ultimatepurpose Ferguson v City of Charleston 2001 Center for Reproductive Rights 2008quot In the decision making Justice Kennedy has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment Justice Scalia has filed a dissenting opinion the Chief Justice and Justice Thomas have joined part two of Justice Scalia s dissent Ferguson v City of Charleston 2001 In the evaluation of this case the right decision was made because it s the pregnant woman s choice what she does to her body regardless of the situation It was unjustly for the authorities to become involved at a state hospital to conduct tests for the purpose obtaining Ferguson v City of Charleston 4 evidence of a patient s criminal conduct without the patient s informed consent It is an invasion of not only the 4th amendment but other important protocols as well The way the authorities arrested these women was in a harsh manner To explain the harshness involved here are some of the ways it was handled the women would be hand cuffed to the bed taken into custody moments after giving birth while they were still bleeding and even taken to jail in shackles This could possibly be even considered cruel and unusual punishment to most people There was no Special Needs exemption needed here because this was not part of any program These women did not sign up for anything that would require them to a drug or alcohol test with any visit The authorities had no probable cause or they didn t have warrant to do such a thing as well The quotspecial needsquot exception of the warrant and probable cause requirements should not be applied to law enforcement searches of citizens who have a reasonable expectation of privacy in medical and other personal matters Center for Reproductive Rights 2008 Every major medical group in the country including the American Medical Association the American Academy of Pediatrics and the March of Dimes opposes using punitive methods such as the quotSearch and Arrestquot policy to address the problem of substance abuse during pregnancy Studies show that threatening women with arrest and jail time deters them from seeking critical prenatal and postnatal care and drug treatment and could thereby actually harm their health and the health of their children Center for Reproductive Rights 2008 When a person Ferguson v City of Charleston 5 goes to see a doctor there are certain policies and guidelines enforced for the protection of the staff and the patient A policy cannot just be made up and then enforced at any given time unless authorized by proper authorities and personnel This case is a great example of Why we have a Bill of Rights Works Cited Center for Reproductive Rights 2008 November 21 Retrieved June 19 2011 from Center for Reproductive Rights httpreproductiverightsorg The Oyez Project Ferguson v City of Charleston 532 US 67 2001 Available at httpoyezorgcases200020092000200099936
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