Third Circuit: Shaving Your Head is Not a Search

The Fourth Amendment continues to decline in popularity in some federal circuits. The Third Circuit has ruled that you can be forced to submit to a taking of your hair so that a drug test for cocaine usage may be performed. Even if it means that police have to shave your head to get it.*

After acknowledging the difference between snipping a few strands of hair and seizing a hair root, which is under the skin, not visible to the public and a living structure, the court found forced shaving to be more akin to a snip:

"The fact that Coddington had very short hair on his head, requiring the police officers and the beautician to shave some of his hair to the skin in order to obtain a sufficient quantity for the drug test, does not alter the fact that the only hair that was taken was above the body surface and on public display, and that hair was taken in a proper manner."

Judge Michael Chertoff, a Bush appointee, concurred in the opinion.

*The justification for snipping hair for a drug test was established in a prior case which held,

We conclude that there is no greater expectation of privacy with respect to hair which is on public display than with respect to voice, handwriting or fingerprints. In the case of blood samples and fingernail scrapings, the bodily seizure requires production of evidence below the body surface which is not subject to public view."

< Post-Election Ad Sale | Post-Ashcroft >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort: