Can a public school legally conduct random urinalysis drug testing of student athletes?

In an opinion written 20 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court observed that children do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door. That may be so, but since that time there is little question that the rights of individual students have been restricted for the sake of the broader interest of preserving an atmosphere for learning in the classroom and on the playing field.

In the latest example, public schools received the Supreme Court’s approval for random urinalysis drug testing of student athletes, even without a suspicion that a particular student has used illegal drugs. The Court held that children in school settings have a lesser expectation of privacy than do adult members of the general population. This, coupled with the role of a public school system as “guardian and tutor of children entrusted to its care,” justified random drug testing by a school district which determined that there was an immediate, widespread drug problem among its student athletes.

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Can a city government limit an individual’s liberty of expression in their own home?

Tired of visual clutter in its neighborhoods, the City of Ladue, Missouri, banned all signs on residential property except for signs that warned of hazards, identified residences, or advertised that the property was for sale. Margaret, who was determined to express her opposition to the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War, placed a small sign that read “For Peace in the Gulf” in the second-story window of her home. Then she sued to stop the enforcement of the ordinance.

Margaret prevailed in a unanimous decision before the Supreme Court, which stressed the special respect that our culture and laws accord to individual liberty in the home. As the Court put it, “that principle has special resonance when the government seeks to constrain a person’s ability to speak there.”

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