Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Free Exercise Claim To Arrest Method Proceeds

In Stroman v. Lower Merion Twp., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9408 (ED PA, Feb. 7, 2007), two plaintiffs sued challenging the methods used by police officers in arresting them. One of the plaintiffs, Janice Myers, claimed that a police officer searched her by putting his hands all over her body, "including on her private parts and under her religious garb and undergarments," even though she had asked to be searched by a female officer. The court rejected her federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act claim because that statute has been held unconstitutional as applied to states and localities. However the court permitted her to proceed with a claim that Marion Township tolerated a policy of use of police power in violation of the Free Exercise Clause, and to proceed with claims against individual officers for their actions.