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The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in New Jersey v. T. L. O. (1985) was a landmark opinion concerning the Fourth Amendment rights of students, protecting them from unreasonable searches and seizures while in schools. In T. L. O., the Court ruled that when carrying out searches or other disciplinary procedures, school officials act as agents of the state, that students do have a legitimate expectation of privacy but that it must be balanced against the needs of educators to maintain order and safety, and that the “reasonable suspicion” standard applies when school officials choose to search students.

Facts of the Case

At issue in T. L. O. was a vice principal's search of a student's purse for cigarettes while investigating a smoking violation. Uncovering cigarettes in the ...

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