What special-needs searches does the U.S. Supreme Court recognize?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Special needs searches are searches that are done without a warrant, typically by government officials who are not police officers.  The Court allows such searches under three conditions:

  • It must be impractical to obtain a warrant.
  • There must be a governmental interest in the search that outweighs the degree to which the search intrudes on the individual.
  • The purpose of the search must not be to obtain evidence for law-enforcement purposes.

There are a number of kinds of special needs searches that have been allowed by the Supreme Court.  They include:

  • Searches of public school students by school officials.
  • Some searches of employees by public employers.
  • Drug testing for employment purposes.
  • Searches of people on probation.
  • Airport security screening.