Justice Blackmun wrote a concurring opinion.
I join the judgment of the Court and agree with much that is said
in its opinion. I write separately, however, because I believe the
Court omits a crucial step in its analysis of whether a school search
must be based upon probable cause. The Court correctly states that we
have recognized limited exceptions to the probable-cause requirement
"[w]here a careful balancing of governmental and private interests
suggests that the public interest is best served" by a lesser standard. I
believe that we have used such a balancing test, rather than strictly
applying the Fourth Amendment's Warrant and Probable-Cause Clause, only
when we were confronted with "a special law enforcement need for greater
. . . The Court's implication that the balancing test is the rule
rather than the exception is troubling for me because it is unnecessary
in this case. The elementary and secondary school setting presents a
special need for flexibility justifying a departure from the balance
struck by the Framers.
. . . Education "is perhaps the most important function" of
government, Brown v. Board of Education, (1954), and government has a
heightened obligation to safeguard students whom it compels to attend
school. The special need for an immediate response to behavior that
threatens either the safety of schoolchildren and teachers or the
educational process itself justifies the Court in excepting school
searches from the warrant and probable-cause requirement, and in
applying a standard determined by balancing the relevant interests. I
agree with the standard the Court has announced, and with its
application of the standard to the facts of this case. I therefore
concur in its judgment.
Questions to Consider
In what way does Justice Blackmun disagree with the reasoning of the majority opinion?
Does Justice Blackmun think school employees should need to have a warrant to search students? Why or why not?