A New Jersey high school student was accused of violating school rules by smoking in the bathroom, leading an assistant principal to search her purse for cigarettes. The vice principal discovered marijuana and other items that implicated the student in dealing marijuana. The student tried to have the evidence from her purse suppressed, contending that mere possession of cigarettes was not a violation of school rules; therefore, a desire for evidence of smoking in the restroom did not justify the search.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey and the school, and against T.L.O. Justice White wrote the majority opinion. The majority concluded that school officials do not need a warrant to justify a search as long as the search was reasonable under the circumstances. Justices Brennan, Marshall and Stevens dissented.The Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to public school officials because they act under the authority of the state. In addition students have a reasonable expectation of privacy for the property they bring with them to school. They have not “waived all rights to privacy in such items merely by bringing them onto school grounds.”
In the early 1970s, the medical school of the University of California at Davis devised a dual admissions program to increase representation of disadvantaged minority students. Allan Bakke was a white male who applied to and was rejected from the regular admissions program, while minority applicants with lower grade point averages and testing scores were admitted under the specialty admissions program. Bakke filed suit, alleging that this admissions system violated the Equal Protection Clause and excluded him on the basis of race.
Five members of the Court voted to require the University of California at Davis to admit Bakke to its medical school.The Court determined that any racial quota system in a state supported university violated both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
John and Mary Beth Tinker of Des Moines, Iowa, wore black armbands to their public school as a symbol of protest against American involvement in the Vietnam War. When school authorities asked that the Tinkers remove their armbands, they refused and were subsequently suspended.
In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Tinkers.The Court ruled that students are entitled to exercise their constitutional rights, even while in school. The justices reasoned that neither “students (n)or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Because student expression is protected by the First Amendment even while in school, school officials must provide constitutionally valid reasons for regulating student expression. The justification for the regulation must be more than “a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint.” School officials must show that the expression would cause a “material and substantial disruption” with the discipline and educational function of the school. The Court decided that allowing the Tinkers to wear their armbands protesting the Vietnam conflict would not “substantially interfere with the work of the school or impinge upon the rights of other students.” Wearing the armbands was a “silent, passive expression of opinion” that did not involve any “disorder or disturbance,” and was unlikely to cause a “material and substantial disruption” in the school.
Supreme Court Cases
Supreme Court Cases<br />
Objectives<br />To familiarize the students with important Supreme Court cases.<br />To encourage critical thinking amongst students, regarding controversial political issues.<br />
New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985)<br />Student smoking in the bathroom, searched by principal<br />Marijuana found upon search<br />Student believed search was unjustified<br />
Result<br />6-3 in favor of New Jersey and the school<br />Did not need warrant to justify search<br />According to the Fourth Amendment, the school acts under the authority of the state<br />
Regents of the U. of CA v. Bakke (1978)<br />Allan Bakke applied to medical school<br />Increase minority population at the University<br />Bakke rejected<br />Minority students with lower GPAs accepted over Bakke<br />
Result<br />5-4 in favor of Bakke<br />Violated of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection clauseof the 14th Amendment<br />
Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)<br />John and Mary Beth wore black armbands to school in protest of Vietnam War<br />School authorities asked them to remove armbands<br />
Result<br />7-2 in favor of the Tinkers<br />Expression did not cause any material and/or substantial disruption<br />First Amendment<br />Freedom of speech<br />