Board of Education v. Earls
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|Board of Education v. Earls|
|Argued March 19, 2002|
Decided June 27, 2002
|Full case name||Board of Education of Independent School District of Pottawatomie County, et al. v. Earls, et al.|
|Citations||536 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.|
|Majority||Thomas, joined by Rehnquist, Scalia, Kennedy, Breyer|
|Dissent||O'Connor, joined by Souter|
|Dissent||Ginsburg, joined by Stevens, O'Connor, Souter|
|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
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.
- Text of Board of Education v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002) is available from: CourtListener Findlaw Justia Library of Congress Oyez (oral argument audio)
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