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WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court approved random drug tests for many public
high school students Thursday, ruling that schools' interest in ridding
their campuses of drugs outweighs an individual's right to privacy.

The 5-4 decision would allow the broadest drug testing the court has yet
permitted for young people whom authorities have no particular reason to
suspect of wrongdoing.

It applies to students who join competitive after-school activities or
teams, a category that includes many if not most middle-school and
high-school students.

Previously, these tests had been allowed only for student athletes.

The decision will allow the broadest testing ever allowed by the court for
young people who have given authorities no reason to suspect them of

It applies to students who join competitive after-school activities or teams.

In the past, the tests have only been allowed for student athletes.

"We find that testing students who participate in extracurricular
activities is a reasonably effective means of addressing the school
district's legitimate concerns in preventing, deterring and detecting drug
use," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for himself, Chief Justice William H.
Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen Breyer.

The court stopped short of allowing random tests for any student, whether
or not involved in extracurricular activities, but several justices have
indicated they are interested in answering that question at some point.

The court ruled against a former Oklahoma high school honor student who
competed on an academic quiz team and sang in the choir. Lindsay Earls, a
self-described "goodie two-shoes," tested negative but sued over what she
called a humiliating and accusatory policy.

The Pottawatomie County school system had considered testing all students.
Instead, it settled for testing only those involved in extracurricular
activities on the theory that by voluntarily representing the school, those
students had a lower expectation of privacy than did students at large.


High court approves random drug tests in public schools

June 27, 2002 Posted: 10:15 AM EDT (1415 GMT)
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