VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. ACTON

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
94-590
Petitioner 
Vernonia School District
Respondent 
Acton
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(On behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner)
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Facts of the Case 

An official investigation led to the discovery that high school athletes in the Vernonia School District participated in illicit drug use. School officials were concerned that drug use increases the risk of sports-related injury. Consequently, the Vernonia School District of Oregon adopted the Student Athlete Drug Policy which authorizes random urinalysis drug testing of its student athletes. James Acton, a student, was denied participation in his school's football program when he and his parents refused to consent to the testing.

Question 

Does random drug testing of high school athletes violate the reasonable search and seizure clause of the Fourth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Vernonia School District, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

No. The reasonableness of a search is judged by "balancing the intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against the promotion of legitimate governmental interests." In the case of high school athletes who are under State supervision during school hours, they are subject to greater control than over free adults. The privacy interests compromised by urine samples are negligible since the conditions of collection are similar to public restrooms, and the results are viewed only by limited authorities. Furthermore, the governmental concern over the safety of minors under their supervision overrides the minimal, if any, intrusion in student-athletes' privacy.

Cite this Page
VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. ACTON. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 17 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1994/1994_94_590>.
VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. ACTON, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1994/1994_94_590 (last visited April 17, 2014).
"VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. ACTON," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 17, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1994/1994_94_590.