This is the third post in our four-part Teaching the Constitution series of blogs about U.S. Supreme Court cases.
Search warrants. Miranda rights. Cruel and unusual punishment. We see and hear these terms brought up all the time in the news media and in popular movies and TV shows. But how much do our students really understand what they mean? At the very least, it is important to note that they pertain to some of the most fundamental rights that Americans have. These rights, as established in the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, are relevant to citizens of all ages.
The Fourth Amendment forbids unreasonable searches and seizures of individuals and property. The amendment was created under the principle that any citizen may be accused of a crime at some point and should therefore be provided protections under the law. The key issue, of course, is what constitutes “unreasonable.”
The table below spotlights two U.S. Supreme Court cases involving the Fourth Amendment that relate specifically to students and schools and can be discussed in your classroom. They address the constitutionality of whether school officials can search a student’s belongings for unlawful materials, and whether high-school athletes can be drug-tested randomly.