NJ v. TLO (1985)

Backround: On March 7th, 1980, two Piscataway Township High School freshmen were caught smoking cigarettes in the bathroom. Smoking at the school in itself was not prohibited; however, students were only supposed to smoke in a designated smoking area. The teacher took the two girls to the principal's office, in which they met with the assistant vice principal, Theodore Choplick. Choplick questioned them about violating a school rule by smoking in the bathroom. The first girl admitted to smoking, but the other girl – widely known as Tracy Lois Odem (though name not confirmed, as her rights were protected due to age) – denied smoking in the bathroom and stated she had never smoked in her life. Choplick then asked Tracy Lois Odem into his private office and demanded she hand over her purse. Upon opening the purse he observed a pack of cigarettes; while removing the cigarettes he noticed a package of rolling papers. Based on his experience, the possession of rolling papers of high school students was closely tied to the use of marijuana. Choplick then began a more thorough search for the evidence of drugs. His search revealed a small amount of marijuana, a pipe, empty plastic bags, a large quantity of money in $1 bills, an index card that appeared to list students who owed Tracy Lois Odem money, and two letters that implicated Tracy Lois in dealing marijuana. The principal then called the police and the girl's mother, who voluntarily drove her to the police station.

Ruling: The Supreme Court of the United States, in a 6-3 decision issued by Justice White, between the individual's—even a child's—legitimate expectation of privacy and the school's interest in maintaining order and discipline, said that New Jersey won the case. According to school officials, they do require a "reasonable suspicion" to perform a search.

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier

Backround: The U.S. Supreme Court held that public school officials may impose some limits on what appears in school-sponsored student publications. The high school paper in question, the Spectrum was published as part of a journalism class at Hazelwood East High School in the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County, Missouri. The newspaper's cost was completely absorbed by the school district. The principal at Hazelwood, Robert Reynolds, usually reviewed the school paper before it was published, had the proofs given to him by the advisor of the paper, Howard Emerson. The May 13, 1983 issue proofs, delivered to Principal Reynolds on May 23, contained stories about teenage pregnancy and divorce. Reynolds was concerned that, though some of the students had been assigned pseudonyms, it might be possible to guess their identities, and in the divorce story that used the real name of a student, the father was not given an opportunity to respond to his daughter's criticism. Also, he was concerned that younger students may not be old enough for the content of the articles. Reynolds decided there was not enough time to change the articles, so he eliminated those stories, rather than delay or cancel the issue completely. Cathy Kuhlmeier and two of her fellow students then brought their school to court, claiming that the school went against the First Amendment's freedom of speech and press, and that their principal did not have the right to censor their articles. 

Ruling: The case was found in favor of Hazelwood School District, overruling a Court of Appeals reversal of a District Court ruling. There were 5 votes for Hazelwood, and 3 against. The justices believed that the censorship did not violate the student's First Amendment rights of free speech.

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