Street Law, Inc. and The Supreme Court Historical Society present

Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

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Setting the Stage: Teacher/Student Simulation

As you walk into class, you observe this conversation between your teacher and one of your classmates:

Teacher: "You smell like cigarette smoke. Have you been smoking?"
Student: "Me? No way… I don't smoke."
Teacher: "I don't believe you. Let me have your backpack. I'm going to call security and have them check it for cigarettes."
Student: "You're kidding me, right? I didn't do anything wrong. Plus, they can't search me without a warrant."
At this point, a security guard enters the room and approaches the student.
Security Guard: "Come with me and bring your backpack. We're going to search it."

Transition

This simulation is based loosely on the events leading up to the Supreme Court case New Jersey v. T.L.O. Read the background information and answer the accompanying questions. Next, make a prediction regarding the outcome of the case. Read the excerpt of the majority opinion and discuss the outcome as a class.

Questions to Consider
  1. What did you think about the event that just occurred? Was the student treated fairly? 
  2. The student claimed that security can't conduct a search without a warrant. Do you think this is true? Why or why not?
  3. Do the rules that police must follow regarding searches apply to school officials? Should the same rules apply? Why or why not? 

< New Jersey v. T.L.O.