Nope to the “random and suspicionless”

Washington courts The concept that government officials need a specific, particularized reason to suspect wrongdoing before engaging in invasive searches and seizures seems clear enough, and bluntly enough stated in both th federal and most state constitutions, and yet the courts have to continue reasserting it.

But at least they generally do, as the Washington Supreme Court did today in York v. Wahkiakum School District. The shorthand version of the case: “The Wahkiakum School District (school district) randomly drug tests all student athletes under the authority of Wahkiakum School Board Policy No. 3515 (policy 3515). Aaron and Abraham York and Tristan Schneider played sports for Wahkiakum High School, agreed to the policy, and were tested. Their parents (York and Schneider parents) sued the school district alleging its drug testing policy violated article I, section 7 of the Washington State Constitution. The school district claims random drug testing, without any individualized suspicion, is constitutional.”

The Supreme Court thought not. It did acknowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court (which has been wobbly at best on the 4th amendment in recent decades) has ruled such searches don’t violate the national constitution. But the state constitutions are relevant locally too. And the Washington court held, “The private affair we are concerned with today is the State’s interference in a student athlete’s bodily functions. Specifically, does it intrude upon a privacy interest to require a student athlete to go into a bathroom stall and provide a urine sample, even against that student’s protest? Federal courts and our court both agree the answer is an unqualified yes, such action intrudes into one’s reasonable expectation of privacy.”

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