New Jersey v. T. L. O. 469 U.S. 325 (1985)

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NEW JERSEY v. T. L. O. 469 U.S. 325 (1985)

inNew Jersey v. T. L. O. a unanimous Supreme Court held that the fourth amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to searches of students conducted by public school officials. A majority of the Court (6–3) also held that school officials need not obtain a search warrant before searching a student under their authority and that their searches can be justified by a lower standard than probable cause to believe that the subject of the search has violated or is violating the law. Instead, the legality of the search depends on the reasonableness of the search under all the circumstances.

According to Justice byron r. white's majority opinion, determining reasonableness requires a twofold inquiry: first, whether the search was justified at its inception, and, second, whether the search as actually conducted was reasonably related in its scope to the circumstances that initially justified it. Ordinarily, the search is justified at its inception if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will produce evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the school rules. The search is permissible in scope if the measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and are not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction.

Patrick Dutton


Dutton, Patrick 1985 School Searches: Recent Applications of the United States and California Constitutions. Journal of Juvenile Law 9:106–128.

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New Jersey v. T. L. O. 469 U.S. 325 (1985)

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New Jersey v. T. L. O. 469 U.S. 325 (1985)