New Jersey V. T.L.O. Essay

New Jersey V. T.L.O. Essay

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The Fourth Amendment to the constitution protects United States citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Our forefathers recognized the harm and abuses that occurred in the colonies to innocent people by the British, and they made sure to write protections into the U.S. Constitution. Fearing the police state that any nation has the potential to become and recognizing that freedom and liberty is meaningless when victimization by the police is a real and foreboding threat the Fourth Amendment was created. The Fourth Amendment has gone through many challenges and controversies in the past, and currently the issue of how the Fourth Amendment applies to students in public schools has come to be contended in the courts. While it is apparent to me that the Fourth Amendment should be no less applicable in schools than in the general society these essential Constitutional protections have been under fire in recent years and many rights have been taken away from students.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." No where in this law does it create special divisions or classifications between adults and minors in society, so one should naturally assume that persons under 18 should be afforded the same protections as anyone over 18. The moment when minors are most at the mercy of government officials is while in school, and this is when these Constitutional Fourth Amendment protections are needed.

The largest and first assault on the rights of students to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures occurred in the case of New Jersey v. T.L.O. In 1980 at Piscataway High School in Middlesex County, N.J. a few girls were caught smoking in the bathroom. After being brought to the principal's office one of the girls, T.L.O., denied that she had been smoking. The principal then searched her purse looking for cigarettes. After finding a pack of cigarettes the search continued until the principal discovered evidence of drug dealing. This evidence was used to prosecute T.L.O. and ultimately she received a year of p...


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...arteries a secret. This I find to be substantially suspect. While I do not argue that the student athletes have a lower expectation of privacy due to their situation in the locker rooms and activities undertaken together as a team, I do not believe that this expectation is nearly low enough to allow an invasion of ones own body for the purposes of a search. Clearly there is no way for anyone to have any indication of what chemicals are contained inside one's own blood by a casual glance or even a thorough study of the outside of one's body. The expectation of privacy regarding one's blood would be equivalent to the contents of a safe hidden and locked inside one's house. While this expectation of privacy is something to be respected it can still be violated by an individual suspicious of guilt accompanied by a probable cause and a search warrant. In that case the blood test or the opening of the safe would be justified in my opinion. But due to the nature of the randomness of this search it is obvious to me that it is unconstitutional and this court decision should be reversed.

These two court cases are very important in the evolution of the Fourth Amendment in public schools.

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