Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer Defends Woman Who Was Strip Searched


Supreme Court Justice Breyer Speaks At Georgetown Law Center Forum

It is a case that is dividing the Supreme Court along liberal and conservative alignments: a Hong Kong woman was strip searched while in immigration detention, as reported by Reuters. The conservative justices say she waited beyond the 6 month statute of limitations to file a complaint, but Justice Steven Breyer looks at it differently.

Kwai Fun Wong, who heads a religious organization called the Wu-Wei Tien Tao association was detained in Oregan when it was decided she entered the U.S. illegally. She was put in jail in Portland, strip searched and denied vegetarian food before being deported.

Her first complaint was the the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (now called the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service), and when this was ignored, she filed for damages from the U.S. government in a federal court. Lawyers for Wong insist that the reason she missed the statute of limitations were legal delays that could not be avoided.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for Wong before it was brought to the Supreme Court. While the more conservative justices favored the government, citing the statute of limitations argument, Justice Beyer, while conceding the government might be right, questioned the fairness of judging the case according to a calendar.

Regarding the case, known as the U.S. v. Wong, “All kinds of odd things can happen to a victim, ” said Beyer. Not only could a lawyer mess up, but illness or even weather could cause a delay.


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