Tuesday, October 15, 2013

N.J. v. TLO

Case Name: New Jersey v. T.L.O.

Year: 1985

Result: 6-3, favor New Jersey

Related Constitutional Issue/Amendment: Amendment IV, Search and Seizure

Civil Rights or Civil Liberties: Civil Liberties

Significance/Precedent: TLO was found smoking in high school and suspected of having cigarettes and drugs. Because the administrator at the school had reasonable cause to search TLO's purse, he did not violate her Fourth Amendment rights. The cigarettes she had were in plain view, which is exempt from the Fourth Amendment, and this gave him reasonable cause to continue searching her.

Quote from Majority Opinion: "...the court concluded that the search conducted by Mr. Choplick was a reasonable one. The initial decision to open the purse was justified by Mr. Choplick's well-founded suspicion that T.L.O. had violated the rule of forbidding smoking in the lavatory. Once the purse was open, evidence of marijuana violations was in plain view, and Mr. Choplick was entitled to conduct a thorough search to determine the nature and extent of TLO's drug-related activities."

Summary of the Dissent: The dissent argued that searching TLO was not reasonable and explicitly violated her Fourth Amendment rights.
Quote: "Today's decision sanctions school officials to conduct full scale searches on a 'reasonableness' standard whose only definite content is that it is not the same test as the 'probable cause' standard found in the text of the Fourth Amendment."

Six-word Summary: Schools can search students when necessary

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