Board of Education v. Earls

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Board of Education v. Earls
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued March 19, 2002
Decided June 27, 2002
Full case nameBoard of Education of Independent School District of Pottawatomie County, et al. v. Earls, et al.
Citations536 U.S. 822 (more)
122 S. Ct. 2559; 153 L. Ed. 2d 735
Coercive drug testing imposed by school district upon students who participate in extracurricular activities does not violate the Fourth Amendment.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
David Souter · Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Stephen Breyer
Case opinions
MajorityThomas, joined by Rehnquist, Scalia, Kennedy, Breyer
DissentO'Connor, joined by Souter
DissentGinsburg, joined by Stevens, O'Connor, Souter
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. IV

Board of Education v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of mandatory drug testing by public schools of students participating in extracurricular activities. The legal challenge to the practice was brought by two students, Lindsay Earls and Daniel James, and their families against the school board of Tecumseh, Oklahoma, alleging that their policy requiring students to consent to random urinalysis testing for drug use violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.


The Student Activities Drug Testing Policy adopted by the Tecumseh, Oklahoma 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 should 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 failed to demonstrate.

Opinion of the Court[edit]

In a majority opinion delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court held that students in extracurricular activities had a diminished expectation of privacy, and that the policy furthered an important interest of the school in preventing drug use among students. This rationale was based on the precedent Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton (1995), which allowed drug testing for athletes. Justice Stephen Breyer filed an opinion concurring in the Court's judgment.


External links[edit]