BOARD OF EDUCATION v. EARLS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
01-332
Petitioner 
Board of Education
Respondent 
Earls
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioners)
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
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Facts of the Case 

The Student Activities Drug Testing Policy adopted by the Tecumseh, Oklahoma School District (School District) requires all middle and high school students to consent to urinalysis testing for drugs in order to participate in any extracurricular activity. Two Tecumseh High School students and their parents brought suit, alleging that the policy violates the Fourth Amendment. The District Court granted the School District summary judgment. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that the policy violated the Fourth Amendment. The appellate court concluded that before imposing a suspicionless drug-testing program a school must demonstrate some identifiable drug abuse problem among a sufficient number of those tested, such that testing that group will actually redress its drug problem, which the School District had failed to demonstrate.

Question 

Is the Student Activities Drug Testing Policy, which requires all students who participate in competitive extracurricular activities to submit to drug testing, consistent with the Fourth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Board of Education, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

Yes. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court held that, because the policy reasonably serves the School District's important interest in detecting and preventing drug use among its students, it is constitutional. The Court reasoned that the Board of Education's general regulation of extracurricular activities diminished the expectation of privacy among students and that the Board's method of obtaining urine samples and maintaining test results was minimally intrusive on the students' limited privacy interest. "Within the limits of the Fourth Amendment, local school boards must assess the desirability of drug testing schoolchildren. In upholding the constitutionality of the Policy, we express no opinion as to its wisdom. Rather, we hold only that Tecumseh's Policy is a reasonable means of furthering the School District's important interest in preventing and deterring drug use among its schoolchildren," wrote Justice Thomas.

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BOARD OF EDUCATION v. EARLS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 31 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_01_332>.
BOARD OF EDUCATION v. EARLS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_01_332 (last visited July 31, 2014).
"BOARD OF EDUCATION v. EARLS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 31, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_01_332.