BOARD OF EDUCATION v. EARLS
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.
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?
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.
ORAL ARGUMENT OF LINDA M. MEOLI ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONERS
Chief Justice Rehnquist: We'll hear argument now in No. 00... oh, pardon me... 01-332, the Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Lindsay Earls.
Meoli I guess.
Is... is that the correct pronunciation?
Mr. Meoli: Meoli.
Mr. Clement: Meoli, okay.
The third time is the charm.
Mr. Meoli: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:
This case involves the constitutionality of the Tecumseh School Board's decision to implement a suspicionless drug testing policy for students in competitive activities as a reasonable response to student drug use.
Tecumseh's policy represents a natural, logical, and rational application of this Court's decision in Vernonia v. Acton.
Vernonia's policy applied to students who chose to participate in interscholastic athletics.
Tecumseh's policy applies as well to athletics, but also to all the other competitive activities that are offered by the district.
Respondents do not challenge the policy as applied to the athletics, conceding that this Court approved that practice in Vernonia.
Mr. Clement: Well, this policy goes beyond what was permitted in Vernonia, does it not?
Mr. Meoli: --Well, it covers--
Mr. Clement: It greatly expands the number of students covered by the policy.
Mr. Meoli: --It... it covers a wider variety of interscholastic competitive activities.
Mr. Clement: And the evidence is not as strong, is it, in this case of drug use in the school as... as was the case in Vernonia?
Mr. Meoli: Well, Your Honor, we do not believe that is true.
Mr. Clement: Well, if you go by the district court's findings, that's what you'd conclude.
Mr. Meoli: The district court in Vernonia?
Mr. Clement: In this case.
Mr. Meoli: In this case.
No, Your Honor, I... I really don't think so.
I think there is ample evidence in the record to demonstrate a drug problem in Tecumseh.
Mr. Clement: What do you--
--By the... by the young people who were involved in these particular extracurricular activities?
Mr. Meoli: Yes, we do have evidence of drug use with these students in extracurricular activities.
Mr. Clement: Well, what do you make of the... the reports that have been filed up to the eve of the adoption of this regulation by the school district with the Feds, year after year after year, saying, things are fine here?
The only thing we have to worry about is some beer.
Were they lying?
Mr. Meoli: No, Your Honor, I don't think they were lying.
Number one, the district has always admitted that alcohol really is the number one problem in the school district, and that's what the applications for the Federal--
Mr. Clement: Yes, but they were... they were saying at the same time that they didn't have a problem with... with what we usually refer to as drugs.
Mr. Meoli: --They said it... it wasn't a major problem at that time.
And... and I think if you compare--
Mr. Clement: And... and in point of fact, as I understand it, since the testing has been carried out among the... the class of people subject to this challenge, there have been only three instances of any drug use found.
Mr. Meoli: --From the... from the drug testing?
Mr. Clement: It would seem... it seems to me that your evidentiary problem is up to the eve of adopting the regulation, the school district was saying, we don't have a problem.
And once the regulation was, in fact, in... was... was placed into effect, you've gone for several years and you found three instances.
I... I don't see how you... you don't lose whether we look at it ex ante or ex post.
Mr. Meoli: Let me answer the second part first.
First of all, the... the policy was only in effect for a limited amount of time in the 2-year span of time.
It was implemented halfway into the first school year, and so a limited amount of students were covered in that first year.
The second year, the lawsuit was filed at the beginning of August, and therefore only a very limited number of initial testing was done before the district determined to hold the policy in abeyance.
There were four students in... under those limited amount of students that tested positive.
I know the court of appeals referred to three in one area, but that was just in the high school.
Mr. Clement: But didn't one--
--Well, I suppose the existence of a policy might be expected to deter drug use so that you would have fewer instances after it was imposed.
Mr. Meoli: Yes, Your Honor, and... and in fact really--
Mr. Clement: We will never know, will we?
Well, let her answer the question.
Mr. Meoli: --Your Honor, in fact, it... it really did.
I... I mean, if you even take the limited amount of testing that we did in the 2-year period of time, the first year three students tested positive, the second year one student tested positive.
The only full year that the testing was applied in the Tecumseh School District was after the district court made its decision but before the court of appeals overruled it.
And that evidence is not in the record, but it was... there was a greater number of students that tested--
Mr. Clement: Ms. Meoli, didn't we say in Vernonia that in Skinner, which was the railroad employee testing case, we did not demand that it be shown that the particular railroad had a drug problem?
Didn't we say it was enough that there was a nationwide problem?
Mr. Meoli: --Yes, Your Honor.
Mr. Clement: We said that in Skinner, and we adverted to that in Vernonia.
Mr. Meoli: And... and Vernonia's evidence as well showed that there was not a specific drug problem among athletes.
Mr. Clement: I thought the argument in Vernonia and I thought the opinion in Vernonia, in assessing the particular interest of the district, repeatedly emphasized the particular problems with the athletes.
The athletes were the ones that the kids looked up to.
They were the role models.
There was rampant drug use among the athletes.
There was a rampant disciplinary problem among the athletes.
Athletes were getting injured.
There was a very specific showing of a specific interest of the district.
And now you're coming in and saying, well, that... that really does not matter.
And it seems to me that the implication of what you're saying is that this so-called special needs requirement will apply to every child in every school in the United States.
Mr. Meoli: I'm not saying that, Your Honor.
I... I think there is a corollary--
Mr. Clement: But isn't that the implication of what you're saying?
Mr. Meoli: --No, Your Honor, I don't.
For instance, you were talking about in Vernonia the athletes were looked up as role models.
Well, the athletes in interscholastic competition in Tecumseh are looked at as role models to some students--
Mr. Clement: Except for one startling difference.
The... in... there was a problem with athletes.
Here, one thing that is clear in the record is the... the school board's admission that the... that the drug and alcohol problem is more of a problem with those who are not engaged in these extracurricular activities.
In other words, the testing is directed to a group, those engaged in competitive activities, that is less of a problem, as far as drug use is concerned, than the rest of the students who are idle.
And just naturally one would expect what turns out to be the case, that there's more drug use in the group that's not tested than there is in the group that's tested.
Mr. Meoli: --Well, Your Honor, we have never said that the... the students in interscholastic competitive activities are the only students or even the most likely students to be abusing drugs.
But the evidence that we have in the case demonstrate that they do abuse drugs.
Mr. Clement: Well, I'm... I'm referring specifically to page 100 and 101 of the joint appendix where the question is whether the students who tend to be involved in drugs are the ones most likely to be choosing extracurricular activities.
And the answer ultimately is, we have students that are on drugs, and they are in extracurricular activities.
They are... they are... there are probably more that are not in activities.
Mr. Meoli: That was the testimony of the... of the board president, Dean Rogers.
There's also testimony of James Blue that said he really didn't find that difference between--
Mr. Clement: Where is that testimony?
Mr. Meoli: --I think it is at page 106, Your Honor.
Now, national studies show that band, vocal and non-athletic extracurricular activities students, they are the least likely of all students to use drugs.
Would you agree that this same... the same thing would hold true for Tecumseh High School students?
The answer was, no, I would not.
Mr. Clement: He had no basis for saying yes or no.
Mr. Meoli: Well, yes, he... he says that initially, and then he goes on to say, I just know that all age levels, all categories... if we're categorizing the students that frequent the park.
This part of the deposition was referring to this--
Mr. Clement: Yes, but he's not saying, as was the case in Vernonia, that here is a group that we can identify that has this problem.
Either there's no particular problem with this group as opposed to all students... so, my question is if... if you can, on the absence of any special showing with respect to this extracurricular group, then it seems to me that your argument is really that all students can be tested.
I mean, there was a special circumstance with the athletes in Vernonia.
Your argument for these extracurricular people I think would hold as well for... for all the students because there's no more of a problem and probably less among those engaged in extracurricular activities than the... than among the students that don't do anything after school.
Mr. Meoli: --Your Honor, the use of... of drugs among the students in competitive activities was just one of the factors as to why the Tecumseh board selected that group.
I really do think that, in fact, the... at the meeting that the school district held for the community to give input, they asked that same question, why can't we drug test all students?
And I think there's a couple of reasons as to why you can't.
One of the reasons I think is because students in general have a property right in their education.
Hence, they have a legal entitlement to a free public education.
Secondly, the State compels them to be there, and parents, if they do not send their... their children to school, face criminal prosecution.
So... so they are there.
And I don't think that you can fashion a drug testing policy that could have the kind of consequences that would deny them that opportunity or... or prevent parents from being persecuted for not--
Mr. Clement: Well, if you want--
--You don't... you don't have to go that far, do you, in order to... in order to justify limiting it to those who participate in... in voluntary activities?
Mr. Meoli: --No, Your Honor.
Mr. Clement: It seems to me you could say even if we could drug test anybody, we made the choice of giving a student who feels that strongly about not undergoing drug testing the ability to avoid it by simply not engaging in the extracurricular activities.
You don't have to forego going to school entirely or go to a private school.
You can simply not participate in extracurricular activity.
Isn't that in itself a valid reason for limiting it to extracurricular activities?
Mr. Meoli: --Yes.
Yes, Your Honor.
Mr. Clement: It's an equally valid argument... I... I suppose an equally valid argument would... for... for testing everybody would be our object is to stop drug use, not to penalize people who go out for band.
And there's some evidence in this record that there is more drug use about the... among the people who are not going out for extracurricular activities, but among those who do.
And therefore, if your argument is good for this case, it seems to me your argument, a fortiori, is good for testing everybody in the school.
Mr. Meoli: --Your Honor, the... the purpose of this program is not to discipline students.
It's not to catch them.
It is to deter drug use and to help those students--
Mr. Clement: Don't you want to deter drug use among those who do not go out for band?
Mr. Meoli: --Yes, Your Honor, I... I believe we do.
Mr. Clement: Then why isn't the argument good that you can test everybody?
Mr. Meoli: Well, number one, I... I think there is a deterrent effect for implementing this program among the student... general student body.
If they want to--
Mr. Clement: Well, I think... go ahead.
Mr. Meoli: --If they want to try out or... or audition for one of those competitive activities, they know in advance that one of the regulations is to be subjected to drug testing.
Mr. Clement: No, but with respect, what you're arguing is... is a justification for the present policy that you've got, and I understand your position there.
What I'm interested in and Justice Ginsburg was a moment ago is it seems to me that if... if we take your argument and we take the evidence that is indicated on the record, there is at least an equally good argument for testing everybody in the school, whether they go out for band or whatnot or... or do not.
And... and isn't that the case?
That's what we're interested in.
Mr. Meoli: Well, I think there is a reasonably good argument for that.
We're not espousing that, but I think--
Mr. Clement: No, I realize--
Mr. Meoli: --even though... even... even if we utilize the balancing test that was utilized in Vernonia, I... I think there is a really good argument--
Mr. Clement: --But if we get to that point, then the whole notion of special need has... has, more or less, evaporated.
We don't have the kind of special safety need as... as in the railroad case.
We don't have the unusual temptation to crime need as in the immigration case, and the special need is simply the need to deter drug use among all children in all schools of the United States.
And... and if the... if the theory of this is special need, it seems to me that the concept of special need seems to have gotten lost.
I suppose the distinction that you draw is based on the fact that you have a sanction for the people that you apply it to.
You can tell them you cannot participate in extracurricular activities.
But as... if you applied it to the whole school board... to the whole school population, rather, you couldn't sanction them by saying you cannot come to school.
Mr. Meoli: --Exactly, Your Honor, and... and that really is our position because we have to educate the--
Mr. Clement: But you could say--
--And the only sanction you impose is you just can't play in the band or... or cheerlead or whatever it is they want to do.
Mr. Meoli: --You can... you can remain in the class.
Mr. Clement: So, you have a special burden if you want to engage in extracurricular activities.
Mr. Meoli: Yes, Your Honor.
Mr. Clement: Or how about taking elective classes, classes that the State doesn't require you to take, but some students might like to take?
Mr. Meoli: Well, Your Honor, we have to draw a line somewhere, and... and even though elective classes are a choice--
Mr. Clement: Well, I wondered what... the line that you would draw as a question of the school's policy, but you were saying at least you see a problem with testing everyone because people are compelled to go to school and... so that's why you resisted drawing the line there.
My question is if you're doing a voluntary, then why don't you say as well, you volunteer for... you're taking a certain course, this is an elective course.
Mr. Meoli: --Well... well, elective courses are really mandatory, Your Honor, in many cases.
I mean, you have your core curriculum that are required for graduation, and you also have your electives.
You need 24 credits in order to graduate from high school.
18 of them have to be in the core subjects.
The rest of them are electives.
But those are required.
Mr. Clement: Except for that, it would be a good idea, though, wouldn't it?
Mr. Meoli: Yes, Your Honor.
I... I think if... if we could fashion--
Mr. Clement: That's what I thought you'd say.
Mr. Meoli: --If we could fashion a way to do it, I believe the majority of school boards would be behind it.
But... but at the state of the constitutions of... of the 50 States and the states of the compulsory education laws that all the States have, I... I don't think that is possible.
So, if a line is going to be drawn, I think the line can be drawn between the students in the general school population and students in extracurricular--
Mr. Clement: May I ask?
Is there any other sanction other than... other than ineligibility for extracurricular activities?
Is there any other sanction imposed on a student who is found to have been using drugs?
Mr. Meoli: --No... no, Your Honor, and in fact, that only happens in this policy under the third time--
Mr. Clement: So, really the student could say, well, the worst... if I go out for extracurricular activities and get caught, it'll be back where if I had gone out at all.
He gets back to square one.
Mr. Meoli: --Well, I think... I think children who engage in these activities really want to compete.
I mean, they are really interested in what they are doing.
So, they don't want to get caught.
And it's also a... a way for these students to say no.
Peer pressure among elementary and secondary school children is... is very significant, and--
Mr. Clement: Could you, for that reason, adopt as a... as one of our sanctions or a supplementary sanction simply publicity that the person has been caught?
Anybody who fails the drug test will have his name and photograph posted on the bulletin board.
Would that be... would that be constitutional too?
I presume it would be under your theory.
Mr. Meoli: --I... I think it would be very cruel, Your Honor.
As... as to whether--
Mr. Clement: It would get the job done.
Mr. Meoli: --as to whether it is constitutional or not... we're... we're not in... in the job of disciplining students.
And... and we seem to be going into that realm more and more.
This program... we don't want to put an A on them or a big substance abuse on them.
What we really want to do is help those students.
And it may be constitutional to do that, but that's not what we are asking this Court to do.
We're just asking you to give us the tools to deter drug use, to help those drug users.
And... and if there are no other questions--
Mr. Clement: Very well, Ms. Meoli.
Mr. Meoli: --my time.
Mr. Clement: Mr. Clement.
ORAL ARGUMENT OF PAUL D. CLEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES, AS AMICUS CURIAE, SUPPORTING THE PETITIONERS
Mr. Clement: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:
A school district that reasonably concludes that it faces a drug problem may adopt random drug tests for students engaged in competitive extracurricular activities without violating the Constitution.
Mr. Clement: Suppose you've had hard statistical evidence to show that the kids that go out for the extracurricular activities are the ones that really do not use drugs, that the high drug user population is in those that don't engage in the activities.
What... what would your recommendation be to the school board at that point?
Mr. Clement: I think in a case like that, it still might be appropriate for the school district to test the students involved in extracurricular activities, and I think that is because, as this Court has emphasized on a number of occasions, by making the... the testing program applicable only to an avoidable activity, the... the school district would be ensuring the reasonableness of the program under the Fourth Amendment.
Mr. Clement: But there's some... we... we had an amicus brief by some... a pediatrics association and so forth that pointed out that students that engage in these extracurricular activities are, indeed, the least likely to be involved in drug use.
And it seems so odd to try to penalize those students and leave untested the students that are most apt to be engaged in the problem.
Mr. Clement: Well--
Mr. Clement: It's just... it's so counterintuitive, isn't it?
Mr. Clement: --A couple of points in response to that, Justice O'Connor.
First, there's contrary evidence as well, and the petitioners in their reply brief point to some evidentiary studies that showed that really drug use is distributed evenly across all groups in the student... in the student population.
The second thing I would add is that as... as I was noting in answer to Justice Kennedy's question, there is a sense, and which the majority and Justice Ginsburg in... in Vernonia emphasized, that by making the program only applicable to activities that are avoidable, you... you limit Fourth Amendment difficulties.
You make the program more reasonable.
And as Justice Stevens pointed out, you also avoid any difficult questions that might be occasioned by the consequences of a drug testing program that applies to school-wide.
Mr. Clement: Well, this in the face of a school district that is certifying to the Federal Government they don't have a drug problem.
I mean, the whole thing is absolutely odd.
Mr. Clement: Well, I don't think it's that odd, Justice O'Connor.
First of all, in terms of the certifications, I would direct you to footnote 23 of the district court opinion.
And the district court found in that footnote that what those reports really emphasized are the relative natures of the problem.
Alcohol was the major problem they faced, but in each one of those... those reports, they note that they do have a drug problem.
Mr. Clement: Well, if alcohol is the problem, why don't they address that?
This is just... I mean, it's structured in a way to do very little good it seems to me.
Mr. Clement, do you think any school in the country doesn't have a drug problem?
Mr. Clement: I would be surprised to find a school district that didn't.
The national figures on... on the... the amount of drug use are really staggering.
As we note in our brief, over half of all 12th graders have tried illegal drugs by the time they graduate from high school.
So, I really think that, you know, if anything, the burden ought to shift in these cases to the other side to show that this one school district is the one school district--
Mr. Clement: Can... can you tell me--
--In both Skinner and Von Raab, we imposed or we permitted the imposition of drug testing on the basis of a nationwide problem, didn't we, without... without showing that the particular entity in question shared in that national problem?
Mr. Clement: --That's correct, Justice Scalia.
And I would also point out I'm not sure you want to put school districts in the business of trying... when they... when they find some incidental evidence of drug use, to try to pin it down to the exact extracurricular groups involved.
If a student comes in--
Mr. Clement: Well, do--
Mr. Clement: --for some sort of anonymous drug counseling, I'm not sure they want to ask him what groups are you in.
Mr. Clement: --May I ask?
What is your view on... on the validity of a... a school-wide drug testing program?
Mr. Clement: Justice Stevens, we think such a program would be constitutional, but we think the program at issue here--
Mr. Clement: So, you would differ from the petitioners then.
Mr. Clement: --We... we do have that difference, but we think a program like this is constitutional for three reasons.
One, extracurricular students agree to additional intrusions on their privacy and have additional safety risks.
Mr. Clement: No.
But you say they agree to it.
They agree to it only under the circumstances that if they don't agree to it, they can't engage in any of these activities.
They know perfectly well they'll never get into a competitive college if they don't.
And the... the agreement is not simply something that is... is arrived at sort of in the abstract.
There's... there's tremendous pressure on them to agree to it.
Mr. Clement: --Two points, Justice Souter.
First, we're not suggesting this is... this is constitutional because it's consensual.
I think Justice Kennedy, in... in his separate opinion in the Ferguson case, pointed out that in these special needs contexts, there's an element of voluntariness which is important to the constitutional analysis, even if it's not voluntary in the full sense of the word.
This... a second and related point about that, though, is that these are avoidable programs, and I think that makes the important difference.
And again, as I noted earlier, because they're... they're avoidable in that sense, it avoids any difficult questions with the consequences that a positive test might generate.
Mr. Clement: But it doesn't--
--May I ask you a question that... that is... concern... concerns me about the difference between this case and Vernonia?
If we... if we look at what people might expect in the real world, where people know that athletes, professional athletes, Olympic athletes, athletes are tested for drugs, but people who are just everyday people aren't.
So, Vernonia could be regarded as all the students who are athletes... they will be treated as athletes are generally.
But that's not true of the... the large population of high school students.
Mr. Clement: Well, I mean, I... I think one fact is that I think it is increasingly becoming true that... that these sorts of policies are in society as a whole.
And one of the petitioners in this case who... who didn't wanted to be drug tested at school had to go get drug tested for the job at the Kmart, at the McDonald's.
And I do think that probably does have some influence on the reasonable expectations of privacy in this area.
But I also think that it really doesn't make a lot of sense to draw a line on... on sports, and even within sports, of course, there are differences.
The Vernonia policy applied to golfers, as well as football players.
Now, I'm not aware that golfers, as a general matter, are tested for substance abuse even on the PGA Tour.
I could be wrong about that, but the point is there are differences in the risks even among the athletes, and I think this Court in Vernonia didn't make anything turn on those differences.
The dissent in Vernonia pointed out that there wasn't any evidence of drug use at the grade school in the 7th and 8th grade, and that the evidence really wasn't an evidence of a disciplinary problem that was specific to student athletes.
And the majority in Vernonia did not... was not... was not moved by those two points.
The majority said that the evidence was good enough in these contexts.
And I think this is an area where deference to the local school boards in their determinations about the nature of the problem, the nature of the solution, and particularly the particular students that are going to be tested is quite appropriate.
It's important to recognize--
Mr. Clement: But you would make... you would make... and I think you've said this... the same argument if they had decided to have a universal drug testing policy in the school.
Mr. Clement: --I would, Justice Souter.
I do... as I said, I think it's a more difficult question.
And I think the most difficult problem with a school-wide test is what Justice Stevens pointed out, and that would be what are the consequences of a positive test.
But if you imagine a school district that... that faced... reasonably concluded it faced a serious problem and instituted a drug test where the only ramification of a positive drug test was a confidential notification of the parents, I don't see why that test would violate Fourth Amendment reasonableness.
Mr. Clement: But at that point, I... the so-called special need has become virtually a universal need.
Mr. Clement: I would like to say two things in response to that.
First, in Vernonia itself, this Court didn't identify the special need as being the drug problem.
This Court identified the special need as being the school setting, and that's consistent with this Court's decision in T.L.O.--
Mr. Clement: And... and the special need would be a universal need in every school in the United States.
Mr. Clement: --I... I do think it would properly recognize that the school context is different, and that school boards have a freer hand in testing their students than the Government has testing either employees or its citizens at large.
Mr. Clement: But if... if that is the case, what is the danger in the school case, comparable to the... to the railroad worker's danger or the... the customs officer's danger?
What is the danger as distinct from simply the desire to deter illegal drug use?
Mr. Clement: I think the danger is this.
I mean, it... and I think Von Raab actually is... is an excellent counterpoint.
This Court in Von Raab said that you could test the customs official because they are on the front line of the drug problems on the supply side.
I think by parity of reasoning, children today are on the front lines of the drug problem, but on the demand side.
The evidence shows that if you can stop children from using drugs before their 18th birthday, they're not likely to start using drugs after that--
Mr. Clement: But if--
--The danger is getting young people used to a drug culture.
You're raising young people in school.
And the... the specific danger is unlike with adults.
You're forming... you're forming their habits for the rest of their life.
Mr. Clement: --I agree with that, Justice Scalia, and I would... I would add that this is not the only context where... where the Federal Government has recognized that difference.
The penalties for dealing drugs in a school area or selling drugs to a minor are much more substantial than those selling drugs to adults.
Mr. Clement: I think that's hardly a revelation that the Government is concerned about what drugs do to our culture.
Mr. Clement: Absolutely, and I think it's perfectly--
Mr. Clement: It's not exactly rocket science, is it?
Mr. Clement: --No, and... and I don't think it's rocket science also to say that that... that concern is particularly acute with respect to the youngest and most vulnerable members of society.
And as I say, if you look at 21 U.S.C. 859, 860, 861, all of those provisions put added penalties on someone who deals drugs involving children.
Mr. Clement: Thank you, Mr. Clement.
Mr. Boyd, we'll hear from you.
ORAL ARGUMENT OF GRAHAM A. BOYD ON BEHALF OF THE RESPONDENTS
Mr. Boyd: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:
Opposing counsel said we have to draw the line somewhere, and the... the way to draw the line in this case is to keep in mind the core principle that individualized reasonable suspicion is the standard for school searches set forth in T.L.O. If there's going to be a line as to where do we go past that standard, while still retaining the core of T.L.O.--
Mr. Clement: There was no individualized suspicion in Vernonia.
Mr. Boyd: --There... there was not, and Vernonia is the exception.
Mr. Clement: Well, so... so there goes your principle.
Mr. Boyd: Vernonia is the exception to the T.L.O. rule.
It didn't... it did not overrule T.L.O. What Vernonia said is that in certain special circumstances, that rule would be set aside.
Mr. Clement: You can have medical... metal detectors in schools where they're afraid the children have guns?
Mr. Boyd: --Yes, they can.
Mr. Clement: Now, there's no individualized suspicion there, is there?
Mr. Boyd: No, there's not, and the reason--
Mr. Clement: Can we take throat swabs if you feel that there is a contagious disease?
Mr. Boyd: --Throat swabs if you think there's a contagious disease.
Mr. Clement: I was trying to... well, that's what I... I raised that because, of course, everyone is making a criminal analogy, but nobody is arrested here.
Mr. Boyd: --Well--
Mr. Clement: Nobody is arrested.
This is counseling.
It's an effort to deal with the demand side of drugs, and... and I just wonder.
That's why I'm... I'm raising, right at the beginning, the question of whether this individualized suspicion is the correct model to apply.
Mr. Boyd: --Well, unless the Court stands ready to overrule T.L.O., I believe it is the standard.
I think what's behind your question, Justice Breyer, is... is a question about intrusiveness of the search.
Obviously, there is a difference between the passive--
Mr. Clement: Well, I mean, it's absolutely clear there isn't individualized suspicion, so you win automatically if that's the test, I would think.
Mr. Boyd: --Well--
Mr. Clement: And, of course, it wasn't in Vernonia.
I would think it wouldn't be in certain instances in the school like guns.
And so, rather than just start off, as you did, assuming that that's it, I'd like to hear some argument for it.
Mr. Boyd: --Of... of course.
Let... let me try to set up what... what I see as... as basically how you move from the general rule of T.L.O. to the exception of Vernonia.
In order to set aside that core Fourth Amendment principle, I think there has to be some nexus to a problem, some connection that is demonstrated to a problem either, and preferably both, in terms of safety and drug use.
Both of those are missing here.
The reason this school expanded its initial policy from athletes to include non-athletes was because it wanted to appear evenhanded.
Now, that's not a value that this Court has recognized in the... in the special needs context.
They didn't want to stigmatize the athletes alone through the drug test, so they said, who else can we get?
Their lawyers said, well, the Seventh Circuit said you can get the non-athletes, and so they expanded it.
But let's look at the safety rationale here.
Now, in Vernonia, the school board said up front, this is about the safety of our athletes, and that's why we're doing it.
In this case, the school board's testimony and the testimony of everyone else who has been... who's... who's testified is that safety is not a reason for this test.
There is nothing about the band or the choir that is dangerous.
And this is a very important too that we did not make in our briefs I want to bring out.
In Vernonia, the drug test was for in-season athletic activities.
While you're playing football, you're drug tested.
They were concerned about that.
In this case, they test year in, year out.
If you look at page 198 of the joint appendix, the policy itself says it is in season and out season.
So, there's nothing about the activities of Lindsay Earls in the choir, who's here today, not a drug user... there's nothing about her activities in the choir that requires her being drug tested.
Mr. Clement: But the choir is presumably a year-round thing in a way that football is not.
Mr. Boyd: No, it's not, Your Honor.
All of these activities have competitive seasons, and the competition is what triggers the drug testing.
It's quite clear that in the academic team, choir, band, all of these activities, they are participating at a certain point, and yet they are drug tested throughout the year.
Mr. Clement: Are you saying that, for instance, choir in Tecumseh is only in the fall?
Mr. Boyd: The--
Mr. Clement: Or only in the winter or only in the spring?
Mr. Boyd: --Yes, Your Honor, in terms of the competitions, they are.
There's a class which... which they are very clear, it is not the reason that drug testing takes place, and someone who's merely in the class is not drug tested.
But if you go out for the team, as it were, which competes during a limited season, then you are drug tested, although it is for the entire year.
So, again, it's not the activities of the choir competition that are of concern to the school.
Mr. Clement: Well, give me the quote.
Which season of the four seasons is for band in Tecumseh?
Mr. Boyd: I honestly don't know what months of the year they compete in, and... and in rebuttal, if I'm wrong, I'm--
Mr. Clement: They can't be for all four seasons, I guess.
Mr. Boyd: --Excuse me?
Mr. Clement: --let me... let me ask you this.
What... what they're... what they're trying to do is to find a basis on which they can implement a program which has an element of consent to it.
The Government does not think that's necessary, but that's the case that we have before us.
And so, what the school district has done has taken a set of programs and they said, this is a surrogate for consent, and that's what's happening here.
This... I... I think this goes beyond Vernonia.
Mr. Boyd: Right.
Mr. Clement: But we take cases as they come to us, and in this case, it is clear that the student who is... is so offended by the idea of a search and does not care about the school district's policy of ensuring that drugs are school-free doesn't need to participate in the extracurricular activity.
That's their choice.
Mr. Boyd: Well, Justice Kennedy, you're absolutely right.
That's the position here.
And frankly, I think that's what it comes down to for them.
They don't have the safety rationale.
They don't have the drug use rationale.
And... and I would actually point to the... to your concurrence in the Ferguson case where you... where you, albeit briefly, survey the special needs in drug testing jurisprudence and point out that in all of those cases, the activity was, in a sense, consensual or voluntary.
I mean, this goes back to Justice Scalia's question in... in the initial round, too.
If you want to drive a train, if you want to be a customs agent, if you want to be a football player in Vernonia, if you want to run for office in Chandler, these are all activities which you're perfectly free to not do.
Now, maybe that weighs into the balance, the constitutional reasonableness balance, somewhat but it certainly is not dispositive.
And when that's all you have, when there isn't the history of drug use, when there isn't a safety rationale, when all you have is this, then it's nothing.
Now, I think also I need to--
Mr. Clement: It... it seems to me if a school is better than other school districts insofar as drug use, they have less drug use, that they're maybe entitled to keep it that way.
Mr. Boyd: --Well--
Mr. Clement: You seem to say not.
You seem to say there has to be some great crisis where we lose a couple years of kids to drugs, and then we... and then we move.
National statistics just don't support that.
Mr. Boyd: --Well, there... there are a couple of things.
I mean, first of all, the... the crisis nationally of drug abuse is one that certainly we need to be concerned about, and I think Justice O'Connor is right to point out that the pediatricians, along with the public health social workers and teachers, all say that this policy of setting up barriers for extracurricular activities is actually counterproductive.
It promotes drug use and other dangerous activities.
But let me get to precisely the question that you're asking, too.
This is a school that has in place cameras in the halls, security guards, drug dogs that sweep through the school and the... and the parking lot and the students.
They search lockers.
They have teachers who are trained in looking for drug use.
They have all of these things in place, and they have a mandatory reporting policy that if they discover any drug use, they have to report it.
Now, over the years, that's added up to two instances of drugs being found, none of them associated with non-athletes, none of them associated with extracurricular activities.
Mr. Clement: Yes, but they have a record here that, of course, suggests if you want to know if drugs are going on in your school, you ask the kids.
You don't find them because nobody is stupid enough to take them into the school.
But it's all around and they use them.
And here they ask the kids, and the teachers ask the kids, and they say, sure, there's a lot of drug use going on over in the park, at parties.
That's the record that I saw.
Mr. Boyd: Well--
Mr. Clement: And I don't really see how that... I mean, you know, you might be able to drive a millimeter of light between that and Vernonia.
Mr. Boyd: --Well--
Mr. Clement: So, go ahead and try.
But I... I can't--
I mean, I... I... they did what I would have done.
I would have asked my children what's really going on in this school, and they get a positive response when it's a question of drugs.
Mr. Boyd: --Justice Breyer, I... I think you're right.
I'm going to go ahead and try.
But I think there's... I think there's an important distinction here.
What the kids said in this case is, to the extent there's drug use going on, who's doing it?
It's not the choir and the band and so forth.
And I think that that's critical.
I think that the jurisprudence of this Court in looking at when do you set aside individualized suspicion, it says there has to be that connection between--
Mr. Clement: Why?
Mr. Boyd: --Why.
Mr. Clement: --Of course, if I read the cases, as I do, and they logically require you to win, that's the end.
Mr. Boyd: Sure.
Mr. Clement: But just in case it's open--
--I would like to know why.
I take it they've given you some reasons why they've limited it.
One, these are the school leaders and maybe it'll spread.
Mr. Boyd: Sure.
Mr. Clement: Two, we don't want to put the student, although we'd really like to, to the choice of school versus drug testing.
We'll put him to the choice of extracurricular versus drug testing.
It's a little bit better.
That's their reason.
Now, what do you say?
Mr. Boyd: Well, I... I mean, I think what's perhaps behind your question is a little bit of what's the law and why is the law that way and a little bit of why the policy--
Mr. Clement: I'll tell you what's behind the question.
What's behind the question is that I think undoubtedly you're right, that this is a slight expansion of Vernonia.
You want to say a lot.
They'll say hardly any.
So, it's hard for me to see why, if I came out one way in Vernonia, I'd come out differently here.
And that's what I want you to--
Mr. Boyd: --Okay, fair enough.
I... I think the question is where do you want to put your focus.
If your focus is solely on is there evidence of drug use in the high school alone, then the difference here I think is still very important.
In Vernonia, you had athletes who were skipping class and being arrested.
You had people smoking marijuana across the street in plain view.
You've got none of that here.
I think there is that difference.
But I think that also I would ask you to focus somewhere different than what is the overall general problem.
I would say that if you take seriously the idea of the nexus, or connection, being there in order to take what is a serious step from individualized suspicion to blanket intrusive search, I would say you have to look at what are the reasons for picking this group.
Is it simply to be fair to the athletes where a problem may exist, or is it... which is the case here, or is it because there's a problem here, which is certainly not the case here.
And there's another difference too, Justice Breyer, which I think is absolutely critical.
In Vernonia, that was a school where discipline was out of control.
Discipline throughout the school jurisprudence of this Court has been a critical factor.
In Vernonia, it was a school that said, quote, we don't have a major drug problem for many years, just like this school.
But then in the space of 2 or 3 years, they said, discipline referrals have increased by almost threefold.
Teachers are threatening to quit.
We're thinking about mass expulsion of the students.
We can't keep control of this school.
Now, if you look what this school has said, by contrast, let me refer you to the joint appendix.
In their Federal reports, they say... now, I'm not talking about the drug use here.
I'm talking about discipline.
They say on page 192, minimal problems have been experienced due to violent safety and discipline problems.
That's right in the middle.
And in the very last sentence on that page--
Mr. Clement: --I don't understand the point of this argument, counsel.
I mean, is... is the only reason schools want to prevent drug use is that they have unruly classrooms when they have drug use?
I should think that is the least of the reasons to prevent drug use.
Mr. Boyd: --Well, it--
Mr. Clement: And... and what I miss in your argument is any recognition of the fact that we are dealing here with minors.
I mean, you're talking here about a search rather than a seizure, but in the case of minors, you can keep them, in effect, imprisoned after school, can you not, if they haven't done their homework or something else?
The school is standing in loco parentis.
It is trying to train and raise these young people to be responsible adults.
And I think that... it's a... it's a world of difference from... from what... from what the State can do with regard to adults.
Mr. Boyd: --Let... let me... let me do two things, if I may, Justice Scalia.
Let me just quote the last sentence of what I was about to say and then I... and then, if I may have your permission to address the in loco parentis argument, because there's a good answer to that.
In terms of the discipline argument, Justice Breyer, what the school said is we don't have that problem, and in the last sentence, the discipline policies in place at each site have been effective in dealing with the problems.
So, I think if one of the things, maybe not the only thing, Justice Scalia, but if one of the things we care about is can the kids learn here, is this a school environment that is conducive to learning and safety and discipline, Tecumseh High School has that in hand with their cameras and guards and dogs and everything else.
They don't need this policy.
Especially they don't need it for Lindsay Earls.
I mean, if they want to voluntarily test all the students, they apparently will get many of them, but why should we force Lindsay Earls to... to give up her privacy as part of that?
Mr. Clement: You're willing to rest your case on the proposition that the only valid basis for conducting drug searches is to... is to enable the school to maintain discipline.
Mr. Boyd: No, no.
Mr. Clement: So long as you have a bunch a druggies who are orderly in class, the school can take no action.
Is... is that what you want us to--
Mr. Boyd: Absolutely not.
Given that we have here a school that has not only discipline in hand, but also drug use itself in hand, especially among these activities, which themselves aren't dangerous, it seems it adds up to me the mirror image of Vernonia.
But let me address your point, Justice Scalia, about in loco parentis.
Mr. Clement: --Except for one point that was made in Vernonia, and it does go across the board, and that was the statement that drug testing on suspicion, which is the alternative, because in life, it's everything as compared to what.
So, if we didn't have the... the random testing, it would be on individual suspicion.
And the point was made there that if you had... if you treated the children that way, you would transform this random process into what the opinion author called a badge of shame, and that it might be worse the risk of singling out the troublesome, but not drug likely student, the one that the teacher... the one that's always the bad boy in the class and diverts the teachers--
Mr. Boyd: Right.
Mr. Clement: --who are engaged in that exercise from the job of teaching to being a police officer.
Mr. Boyd: Justice Ginsburg, there's a good answer to that question.
Let me focus on the facts of this case, as they come to this Court.
This is a school that already has not had this problem of pointing the finger of... of accusation at students, although it could do that with its drug dogs and locker searches and everything else.
When it gets a student for whom there is some suspicion of drug use, say, a... a drug dog hits on a student who could easily have had dad's beer spilled on the... on the sleeve.
That will make a drug dog alert.
That student is then questioned.
That already happens in this school.
But there's also a key point that I think was missed in that... in that discussion in Vernonia, which is that even if... whichever way you rule in this case, suspicion-based drug testing can and will go forward in this and many other schools.
So, even if you have a blanket policy, if there is, say, some malicious teacher out there who wants to... to pick out Johnny because Johnny is acting bad and... and put that badge of shame on him, she or he can certainly do that.
I don't think that that is a reason to go ahead with the policy that doesn't have a basis in the safety, discipline, or drug use rationales.
Now, Justice Scalia, I'm feeling like I'm not getting to the in loco parentis question, and I do because the... the short answer is, I believe the brief by the parents, the amicus brief... Jean Burkett is the lead one... really engages this question in a very vigorous and intelligent manner.
And what they say is this.
In loco parentis is a doctrine that does not say the school is the parent, can take over from the parent.
The parent still retains certain roles, and the parents in this community... a good number of the parents in this community say I want to raise my kid and I've succeeded so far in raising my kid by having open communication where they can come to me and talk and we will... and we will have that trust there.
The school has interfered with that relationship by forcing me, the parent, to sign off on this drug test, which is a different way of raising kids.
Mr. Clement: Well, but the in loco parentis argument works against you there too because in loco parentis also indicates that all children are forced to go to this school.
Mr. Boyd: Yes.
Mr. Clement: And we have to accept that a majority of the parents want to make sure that those children are in a drug-free atmosphere.
Mr. Boyd: In--
Mr. Clement: And they have... they... you seem to me to be disparaging about police dogs and locker searches, and maybe that's what you're going to challenge next.
But what the... what... what the school board has said is that this is a necessary and effective policy, and that's... that's all it said.
Mr. Boyd: --Justice--
Mr. Clement: And there are rights of other children who want to go to a school which is drug-free, if they can.
Mr. Boyd: --Absolutely, Justice Kennedy.
Mr. Clement: And it seems to me that's part of in loco parentis too because those students are required to go the school just as... as the drug user is.
Mr. Boyd: You're absolutely right about that, and please don't hear me to be disparaging of those other tools because those are tools that do not include a blanket intrusive search, which is the principle that's at issue here.
And I actually applaud this school for being--
Mr. Clement: Well, why does it make difference why you applaud it or not?
Mr. Boyd: --Oh, it probably doesn't.
It probably doesn't.
Mr. Clement: We're talking about a constitutional question.
Mr. Boyd: It... it does.
But... but the point I'm trying to make is that... is that these other tools, which they have the legal right to use, are being used successfully.
In loco parentis I think comes into play when you have a school like Vernonia where, as... as you put it, Justice Kennedy, the rights of the other students, their ability to get an education and to themselves stay drug-free is being interfered with.
Now, if we were talking about the Vernonia school--
Mr. Clement: Are you saying that the in loco parentis principle does not apply in the case of a school if a minority of parents object to what the school is doing?
Mr. Boyd: --That's not my position.
Mr. Clement: Well, I thought that was what you were saying a moment ago?
Mr. Boyd: Let... let me please try to be more clear about that.
It depends on what the issue is and what's happening in the school.
When there is an issue of school discipline, say, in the Fraser case or the Hazelwood case, where you had student conduct that was in a sense... well, certainly had... had a element of connection to constitutional protection, but yet affected the rights of other students to be able to learn in that environment, then--
Mr. Clement: Well, how did... how does Hazelwood fit that description?
Mr. Boyd: --Well, because of the disruption that could be caused by the... by the school paper articles.
My... my point is that where disruption--
Mr. Clement: I don't think the reason in Hazelwood was... where the discipline was justified was... caused disruption, but because when you're learning in school, you follow the instructions of the teacher.
Mr. Boyd: --Well, and also the form issue.
I mean, I... I think that's certainly there and I don't... I... I brought this upon myself by bringing up the case, but I hope--
Mr. Clement: You did, yes.
Mr. Boyd: --I did.
I did and I apologize for that.
But my point is that the in loco parentis doctrine more broadly comes into play when the rights of the student who says, I want to... or the minority comes into conflict with... with the environment of the school of learning and discipline.
And that's... that was the case in Vernonia.
That's not the case here.
And it's certainly not the case if you think of it in terms of the rights of the student--
Mr. Clement: Now, say again why you... you think the Vernonia situation, with respect to this point, is different than the Tecumseh.
Mr. Boyd: --Sure.
It's... it's really the point I was making to Justice Breyer about discipline in the school.
Vernonia had convincingly shown and the district court found that there was a discipline problem that was out of control that was directly tied to drug use by athletes.
They wanted to address this problem by going after the thing that was connected to it.
Now, this is a school that doesn't have any of that.
It doesn't have the discipline problem.
It doesn't have the drug use.
Mr. Clement: Well, but that... that question has been batted back and forth... you're... you're not saying, are you, that unless the school has the sort of discipline problem they had in Vernonia, it can't do this?
Mr. Boyd: No, I'm not.
No, I'm not, although I think that when you have neither a discipline problem nor a drug use problem among the tested students, nor a safety among the students tested, I don't see how you get within Vernonia at all unless Vernonia sort of quietly, implicitly said what we really meant to say was drug test everybody because those principles do apply to all 24 million secondary school students in this Nation.
And so I don't--
Mr. Clement: May I ask on the drug test?
If you had a choice, in terms of which is the... I understand you think this is clearly unconstitutional.
Would it be more unconstitutional or less unconstitutional to test everybody?
Mr. Boyd: --I'm not really sure that one can... can rank more and less constitutional.
Both seem to me plainly unconstitutional.
The only constitutional way to go beyond individualized reasonable suspicion is to identify a problem in a school and devise a solution that has a close nexus to that particular problem, and that certainly isn't the case here.
Let me put that a little bit differently, Justice Stevens.
Mr. Clement: Of course, Justice Scalia would... would respond by saying, well, everybody knows there's a potential problem in every school in the country, and that's enough.
And why isn't that an effective argument?
Mr. Boyd: It's not... it's not enough because what I would say is that it is really that the balancing test behind the Fourth Amendment reasonableness requirement becomes one where there's no weight on one side of the... of the balance.
That's a little vague, so let me--
Mr. Clement: Why is that?
Now, they've come in with a brief on the other side and said, you know, despite the fact that we're spending X billion dollars, two-thirds of which goes on the supply side for interdiction--
Mr. Boyd: --Right.
Mr. Clement: --demand has stayed constant among teenagers, and it's about 20 to 30 percent of all of the children in these high schools who take drugs.
Now, if you know that that is a fact, why is it... and if you know this is a typical high school, why isn't that enough to do just what you said would be constitutional, to say here's a particular problem, 20 to 30 percent of the kids are taking drugs, and we want to come in with a solution that's tailored to that?
Mr. Boyd: Well, it's... you know, the number is probably, according to Mr. Clement, is more like 50 percent, and... and that 50 percent of... of the kids in the high schools are using drugs.
Mr. Clement: All right.
Then it's much worse than I thought.
Mr. Boyd: And--
Mr. Clement: And then if that... if that's fine, then... then there is the problem you talked about, which I just heard you say.
And so, if... you said if there's a problem of a serious sort, and that this is tailored to that problem, they can do it.
So then why couldn't they do this on that theory?
Mr. Boyd: Well, if it's 50 percent nationally, this school in its reports to the Federal Government says that its school-wide drug use based on its own surveys, which is where the national data comes from, surveys, is 5 percent.
Mr. Clement: All right, 5 percent.
I mean, maybe... maybe they exaggerated in that report.
I guess I'd have to take the finding of the district court here, and when I read the district court opinion, I thought the district judge thought it was a fairly serious problem.
Mr. Boyd: Well--
Mr. Clement: He didn't put numbers on it.
Mr. Boyd: --Right, he did not.
Mr. Clement: But you used the word serious problem.
Mr. Boyd: Okay.
What... what I wanted to say, Justice Breyer, is this.
If you take the school at their own word, that their data shows that it's at 5 percent, and you take the school board president and all three teachers at their word in saying, to the extent that that drug use... that 5 percent is there, it tends not to be among these activities, and if you take this Court seriously in articulating a nexus test, there simply is not a nexus between choosing these non-athletes who, both in terms of school versus Nation and the non-athletes and the school versus the other students, are really exceptionally unlikely to be using drugs.
It's a terribly poor--
Mr. Clement: --Now, in your opinion a school that did find that it was within, let's say, half the average, say 20 percent or 25 percent, and they did feel that a significant number of their extracurricular activity students were involved in that, if... if they've heard that through hearsay or any other way that was reasonably plausible for policy makers, they could then do this in your opinion.
Mr. Boyd: --No, they could not because there still is a need for a safety rationale.
There is not a single case in which drug testing has been upheld by any court, outside of this line of cases for extracurricular non-athletes.
Mr. Clement: Well, what was the safety rationale with golfers in Vernonia?
Mr. Boyd: Well, the safety rationale... I mean, certainly the Court in Vernonia didn't talk about golfers one way or another, but--
Mr. Clement: Well, but you're... you're saying that Vernonia was based on a safety rationale.
Its testing included golfers.
Mr. Boyd: --Well, in Vernonia, the Court talked at some length about the safety rationale.
Justice Kennedy, in his... in his Ferguson concurrence, also described the Vernonia holding as... as being about students who are athletes and face these danger risks.
Now, reasonableness, Your Honor... reasonableness... it does need to turn in the end on some kind of reasonable line drawing.
I think it was reasonable for the Court to say in Vernonia, the line that was drawn by Vernonia among athletes, the vast majority of whom are doing things that, if not involving physical contact, certainly involve exertion of the court, that in the opinion of the Court could cause death.
Death was what was... the word that was used by this Court.
Also, in Skinner, death from train accidents; in Von Raab, death from misguided bullets.
Those were the stakes in those cases.
Here you've got a choir.
Mr. Clement: How about death from overdose?
Mr. Boyd: Death from overdose is certainly a concern, but there's no--
Mr. Clement: I mean, do you think life and death is... is really not involved in... in the fight against drugs?
Mr. Boyd: --It absolutely is, Justice Scalia, and... and where there's--
Mr. Clement: Let's not minimize that.
Mr. Boyd: --I don't mean to, and where there is evidence of drug use among a group of students, then I--
Mr. Clement: As far as... as far as the extent of the drug use is concerned, this is an elected school board, isn't it?
Mr. Boyd: --It is.
Mr. Clement: Why... why should I trust your assessment of how serious the drug problem is and what measures are reasonable to counter that... that seriousness over the assessment of... of the local citizens who... who elect their school board, and their school board says we have a big enough problem that we want to use this draconian measure?
Mr. Boyd: Well, I think if we listen to the school board and to the school administration, who themselves are even closer to that problem, what they say is, we've identified enough of a problem that initially we want to test our athletes.
And they directed Mr. Jacobs to go off and draft a policy for athletes.
He did so.
They came back and he said, you know, we feel kind of bad about stigmatizing our athletes.
Who else can we test?
Now, that's not identifying a drug problem.
In fact, the best evidence in this case is what the school itself says to the Federal Government where the Federal Government says, now, remember these reports, when they write them, they say, tell us what you know, not based on just sort of vague evidence, but tell us what you really know about drug use, do some surveys, ask some questions, look around.
The school did that, and over the course of a number of years, they said consistently exactly what Vernonia said back before it had a problem.
We don't have any--
Mr. Clement: Suppose... suppose the school district said, we're going to have two schools and you can go to either one.
One, they don't have dogs or... or tests or anything else.
It's the druggie school.
And... and the other school... and the other school is they have mandatory testing for everybody.
Would that be constitutional?
And then your client could go to the druggie school.
Mr. Boyd: --I don't think so because I think even by the nature of that hypothetical, it presupposes one of the schools is going to be vastly inferior on a number of grounds.
Mr. Clement: Vastly experience why?
Mr. Boyd: Excuse me?
Mr. Clement: Why?
Because there are drug users there.
Mr. Boyd: Well, I... I think... no, I don't think that's the reason why.
Mr. Clement: No parent... no parent would... would send the child to the first school that I suggested, other than perhaps your client wants to go there.
Mr. Boyd: --Well, she absolutely would not, Your Honor.
I mean, Lindsay Earls is... is a young woman, a freshman at Dartmouth now, who hasn't used drugs.
She was drug tested and she passed, and no one has suspected her of using drugs.
I'm sure my... my opposing counsel would attest to that.
Mr. Clement: Can... can... doesn't... don't magnet schools have rules for uniforms and so forth that they're... they're completely optional?
A school district could have two schools, one with... one with no testing, the other with testing.
Then you have a choice.
Mr. Boyd: I think uniforms are a world apart.
There's not an intrusive blanket search.
Mr. Clement: Well, they're not covered by the Fourth Amendment.
Mr. Boyd: Exactly.
Mr. Clement: I mean, isn't that the problem?
Mr. Boyd: It is.
Mr. Clement: What do you... do you say just frankly to the argument, forget individualized need, forget special need entirely, forget suspicion?
We're standing in loco parentis and if we think it's reasonable to do it, we can do it.
What's the answer to that argument?
Mr. Boyd: I... I think the answer to the argument is the Fourth Amendment turns on reasonableness.
It's not a majority rules standard.
And I think you have to look at the incremental intrusion here, and this is a point that I don't think has been made today.
But with school athletes, they already submit a urine sample.
Mr. Clement: That doesn't answer the question.
The question... yes, it turns on reasonableness, but what Justice Souter's question suggests is that the... the issue is whether it would be reasonable for a parent who's concerned about drug use on the part... on the part of his children, to be this intrusive.
That is the question.
Mr. Boyd: For a parent to do it... I... well, I see that my time is up.
Mr. Clement: Yes.
I extend your time by 30 seconds.
Mr. Boyd: --Thank you.
A parent can do many things that are different than what a school could do.
The fact that a parent could do a drug test is exactly the reason... and in Tecumseh they could do that.
That is not a reason for a school to do it in circumstances where there is not a demonstrated problem among the students who were being tested with a... with a solution that's actually tailored in any reasonable fashion to meet that problem.
Mr. Clement: Thank you, Mr. Boyd.
Ms. Meoli, you have 1 minute remaining.
Mr. Meoli: Mr. Chief Justice, if there are no further questions, I'll waive the remainder of my time.
Chief Justice Rehnquist: Very well.
The case is submitted.
Argument of Speaker
Mr. Clement: The opinion of the court in No. 01-332, The Board of Education of Independent School District No.92 of Pottawatomie County versus Earls will be announced by Justice Thomas.
Argument of Justice Thomas
Mr. Thomas: This case comes to us on a writ of certiorari to United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
The Tecumseh School District enacted a Drug Testing Policy that requires all middle and high school student to consent to drug testing in order to participate in any extra curricular activity.
Respondent high school students and their parents brought a Section 1983 action against the School District.
Alleging that the policy violates the Fourth Amendment and that the School District failed to identify a special need for testing student who participate in extra curricular activities.
Relying on our decision in Vernonia School District versus Acton, the District Court granted summary judgment to the School District and upheld the policy.
The Court of Appeals reversed and held that the policy violates the Fourth Amendment.
In an opinion filed with the Clerk today, we reversed.
In Vernonia, we upheld the suspicion research drug testing of athletes.
In doing so, we relied heavily on the fact that the policy tested children attending public schools and this such was undertaken in furtherance of the Government responsibilities as guardian and tutor of children entrusted to its care.
We apply Vernonia’s principles to the somewhat different facts of this case.
First, the nature of the privacy interest allegedly compromised by the drug testing as minimum as students affected by the policy have a limited expectation of privacy.
Second, the invasion of the students’ privacy is not significant given the minimally intrusive nature of the sample collection and the limited uses to which the test results are put.
The tests results are not turned over to any law enforcement authority, nor do the results lead to imposition of disciple or have any academic consequences.
Finally, considering the nature and immediacy of the Government's concerns and the efficacy of the policy in meeting them, we conclude that the policy effectively serves the School District's interest in protecting the safety and health of the students.
Accordingly, we hold that the policy does not violate the Fourth Amendment because it is a reasonable means of furthering the School District's important interest in the determining drug use among school children.
Justice Breyer has filed the concurring opinion; Justice O’Conner has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Souter has joined, and Justice Ginsburg has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Stevens, O’Conner and Souter have joined.