SKINNER v. RAILWAY LABOR EXECUTIVES' ASSOC.

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
87-1555
Petitioner 
Skinner
Respondent 
Railway Labor Executives' Assoc.
Advocates
(on behalf of the Respondents)
(on behalf of the Petitioners)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Recognizing the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse by railroad employees, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) implemented regulations requiring mandatory blood and urine tests of employees involved in certain train accidents. Other FRA rules allowed railroads to administer breath and urine tests to employees who violate certain safety rules.

Question 

Did the regulations violate the Fourth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Skinner, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

No. The Court held that the government's interest in assuring safety on the nation's railroads constituted a "special need" which justified a departure from standard warrant and probable-cause requirements in searches. Preventing accidents, the goal of most railroad regulations including the one in this case, argued Justice Kennedy, was such a significant concern that it warranted reduced "expectations of privacy" for railroad employees.

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SKINNER v. RAILWAY LABOR EXECUTIVES' ASSOC.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 13 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_87_1555/>.
SKINNER v. RAILWAY LABOR EXECUTIVES' ASSOC., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_87_1555/ (last visited December 13, 2014).
"SKINNER v. RAILWAY LABOR EXECUTIVES' ASSOC.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 13, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_87_1555/.