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469 U.S. 325

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New Jersey v. T.L.O. 469 U.S. 325. January 15, 1985. Circumstances of the Case. On March 7, 1980 a teacher at Piscataway High School found T.L.O with a friend smoking cigarettes in a bathroom.

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circumstances of the case
Circumstances of the Case
  • On March 7, 1980 a teacher at Piscataway High School found T.L.O with a friend smoking cigarettes in a bathroom.
  • She was then admitted to Principals office where the Vice Principal proceeded to look through her purse finding a pack of cigarettes, rolling paper, a pipe, marijuana, a large wade of dollar bills, and two letters that indicated T.L.O. was involved in marijuana dealing at the high school
constitutional issue
Constitutional Issue

Under the 4th Amendment citizens’ are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. But does a student have the same rights as an adult? No, a search could be reasonable under the 4th Amendment without probable cause, so long as it was supported by reasonable suspicion or reasonable cause that a crime has been committed.

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decision of the court

The court ruled in favor of New Jersey. Which states that school officials act for the parents of students. They do not need a warrant to make searches. Exclusionary rule does not apply to this case because T.L.O’s behavior furnished a reasonable basis for the search.

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The decision of the case serves as a precedent in future cases. During the 1990’s T.L.O’s case was used in a number of Supreme Court cases to allow the use of metal detectors and protective searches in school.

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Justice Byron White wrote

the Court’s opinion.

White wrote, “school officials may properly conduct a search of a student’s person if the official has a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been… committed, or reasonable cause to believe that the search is necessary to maintain school discipline….”