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Case Brief Form

Heading:
U.S. Supreme Court:

VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT 47J v. ACTON


Supreme Court of the United States, 1995
Appellants Name: ACTON

Appellees Name: VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT 47J

Plaintiff

Defendant

Citation: 94 U.S. 590


Procedural History (how did the case get here, from where, and why):
U.S. District Court:

Plaintiff: ACTON

Defendant: VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT 47J

9th Circuit Court of Appeals:

Appellant: ACTON

Appellee: VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT 47J

U.S. Supreme Court:

Appellant: VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT 47J Appellee: ACTON

- Federal district court upheld the school districts policy for drug testing athletes.
- The appellate court reversed that decision based on that the policy violated both the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments
and the Oregon Constitution.
- VERNONIA SCHOOL DISTRICT 47J appealed that decision to the United States Supreme Court.

Facts (who are the parties and what is the dispute):


An investigation led to the discovery of illicit drug use among athletes in the Vernonia School District. School officials
were concerned that drug use increases the risk of sports-related injuries. The Vernonia School District adopted the
Student Athlete Drug Policy which authorizes random urinalysis drug testing of its student athletes. James Acton, a
student, was denied participation because his parents refused to sign the consent form for drug testing. As a result James
was not allowed to participate on the football team. The Actons as a result filed a lawsuit against the district seeking
declaratory and injunctive relief on the grounds that the Policy violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and the
Oregon Constitution.

Question(s) Presented (what is the dispute and which points of law apply):
Does random drug testing of high school athletes violate reasonable search and seizure clause of the Fourth Amendment?

Holding (what rule applies to resolve the matter and why):

The Fourth Amendment was extended (by the Fourteenth Amendment) to cover search and seizures by state officers. The
collection of urine under the school policy was a search. Student athletes also have lesser expectations of privacy that
their peers who are not athletes. The court noted the little privacy in a locker room. Student athletes also voluntarily
subject themselves to a great degree of regulation as well. Finally, the court viewed the policy as a deterrent of drug use
by student athletes, as well as to prevent harm to them. The court found that the schools policy met the Fourth
Amendments reasonableness requirement and was thus constitutional.