Our View: Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.

DKS Editors

The Supreme Court ruled Monday 5-to-4 that anyone admitted to a jail, no matter the offense, can be strip searched.

The New York Times reported Justice Anthony Kennedy, representing the conservative majority, wrote courts should not question the judgments of correctional officers who must be on the watch for dangerous contraband.

“Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed,” Kennedy wrote of a procedure currently banned in 10 states.

Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the four dissenting judges, wrote the strip searches are “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy” and should be used only when there is a good reason to do so.

The decision supports recent rulings in various appeals courts across the country, which allow strip searches of everyone admitted to a jail’s general population. Other appeals courts have ruled searches were proper only if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” of contraband.

We know strip searches are effective if performed on those who are most dangerous. Gang members, drug fiends, violent offenders — we have no problem with officials taking a closer look at those people for safety reasons. But briefs filed to the Supreme Court — and cited by the dissenters — reveal cases in which strip searches were authorized for violators of leash law, failing to use a turn signal, riding a bicycle without an audible bell and other ridiculously minor offenses.

Kennedy’s response: “People detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals.”

That’s dangerous thinking. Search everyone to catch the few? To hell with whether you think they have anything?

The problem lies with the Kennedy assertion that we must not question prison officials’ judgments. Of course the court should question those judgments.

There should always be a strong reason to invade somebody’s privacy.

The Fourth Amendment, or the guard against unreasonable searches, should protect people who are arrested for minor offenses not involving drugs or violence.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.