Texas legislators are moving to clarify that the Fourth Amendment's protections against warrantless searches apply to searches of people's butts and other private parts.
In late April, the Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that says "a peace officer may not conduct a body cavity search of a person during a traffic stop unless the officer first obtains a search warrant pursuant to this chapter authorizing the body cavity search."
What could possibly compel Texas legislators to pursue this kind of bill now? Reason's Jacob Sullum, a journalist who closely follows the war on drugs, found several recent stories involving state troopers conducting unnecessary body cavity searches on open, public roads because the officers thought they smelled marijuana. Here's one example, from Sullum's story:
On Memorial Day in 2012, Alexandria Randle and Brandy Hamilton, both in their 20s, were driving home to Houston from Surfside Beach when they were pulled over for speeding on Highway 288 in Brazoria County. Claiming to smell marijuana, Trooper Nathaniel Turner ordered the women out of the car. After he found a small amount of pot in the car, Turner called a female trooper, Jennie Bui, and asked her to perform a body cavity search on both women. "If you hid something in there, we are going to find it," Bui says on the dashcam video of the traffic stop. It turned out there was nothing to find. The stop ended with a ticket for possession of drug paraphernalia.Now I'm not opposed to a burly Texas lawman getting all close and personal with me, but I'd like dinner and a drink first.
"It was extremely humiliating, especially with my entire family, including my 8-year-old nieces and my nephew…in the back of the car," Randle told HLN. "They saw all of this happening, as well as everybody on the side of the road….I have a whole different feeling when I see police officers now….It's a very touchy thing dealing with them."