CA Attorney General Rules Against Non-Consensual Student Searches

California State Attorney General Bill Lockyear ruled last week that drug searches of student backpacks, without the student’s consent, violates the U.S. Constitution.
Over a year ago Oxnard Unified High School District asked for a ruling on a proposed policy where students would be asked to leave their classroom without their backpacks, while dogs were brought in to sniff for drugs. If a dog found drugs, the students belongings would be searched by school administrators without the student’s consent and while the student was not present.
Lockyear found that random searches, without probable cause or the student’s consent, is an illegal seizure under the Fourth Amendment. In his opinion he wrote, “It would be unreasonable and thus unconstitutional under the federal Constitution and the California Constitution to separate the students from their personal belongings in order to have the belongings sniffed by drug detection dogs.”
“Attorney General Lockyear has shown he respects the Fourth Amendment and the important protections it affords, even when the situation involves searching for drugs,” said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director. “Perhaps the erosion of Constitutional rights is finally ending.”
Lockyear’s ruling will be treated as law in California, unless it is challenged in a court case or changed by legislation.
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.