Students' Fourth Amendment Rights in Schools: Strip Searches, Drug Tests, and More

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Waldman, Emily Gold
students; rights; Constitutional Law; Education Law; Law
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At the end of June 2009, the Supreme Court decided Safford Unified School District No. 1 v. Redding, a case involving the strip search of a thirteen-year-old girl at an Arizona middle school. Thus, the Court has now decided four cases regarding public school students' Fourth Amendment rights while at school and the time is ripe to take stock of this jurisprudence as a whole. The following discussion provides such an overview. As an initial matter, it is useful to divide the Court's four Fourth Amendment cases into two categories: (1) cases involving suspicion-based searches of individual students, such as the search in Redding; and (2) cases involving random, suspicionless searches of students, such as those conducted pursuant to random drug-testing policies. I will cover each of these two categories, their basic approaches, some of the open issues that remain with respect to each of them, and their underlying similarities.