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The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit does not think that the Fourth Amendment should be interpreted to reach the putting of questions to a person, even when the questions are skillfully designed to elicit what most people would regard as highly personal private information.
Two years after Kristin Greenawalt was hired by the Indiana Department of Corrections as a research analyst, she was told that to keep her job she would have to submit to a psychological examination. Greenawalt complied and later brought the present suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Department and two of its officials (whom she sued in their individual capacity), claiming that the test, which lasted two hours and inquired into details of her personal life, constituted an unreasonable search in violation of her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Greenawalt asked for damages plus an injunction that would require the defendants to expunge the results of the test from her personnel file. The district court dismissed the case, holding that the Department of Corrections could not be sued under section 1983 because it is not a "person" within the meaning of that statute. The district court further ruled that the suit against the individuals was barred by the doctrine of official immunity because the right that the employee was seeking to enforce had not been clearly established in the case law when she brought the suit. Greenawalt appealed.
2) Yes, but the error of the district court with regard to this matter was of no import.
The Court held that the Fourth Amendment did not provide a remedy for the unpleasantness of being subjected to a psychological test. According to the Court, the Fourth Amendment was not drafted, and has not been interpreted, with interrogations in mind. The Court averred that even if the present court was wrong, there was no doubt that the existence of such a remedy was not clearly established when the suit was filed. The Court held that Greenawalt could not assert a tort claim for invasion of privacy, because such a claim was not recognized by Indiana law. Anent the second issue, the Court held that the district court judge was mistaken about the individuals' immunity concerning the injunctive relief sought, because the defense of official immunity was applicable only to liability for damages. However, the Court held that the error was of no import since Greenawalt could not seek injunctive relief since she had sued the individuals in their individual capacities.