The Perils of Smoking in the Bathroom –

Reenactment of Argument On Student Rights Under the Fourth Amendment

On December 18, 2019, over 160 students from eight DC public schools came to the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse to watch the reenactment of New Jersey v. T.L.O., the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case addressing whether high school students were entitled to protection under the Fourth Amendment from unreasonable search and seizure by school officials. Students from seven D.C. public high schools (Anacostia, Ballou, Banneker, Capital City Public Charter, Dunbar, Roosevelt, West Education Campus, ) and McFarland Middle School participated in the program.

Three current judicial law clerks — Illyana Green, Maxwell Gottschall, and Harrison Stark — and former law clerk Tiffany Wright presented the arguments, derived from the actual transcripts of the oral argument and engaged the students in a discussion about the issues. Judges David Tatel, Sri Srinivasan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson played the roles of the Supreme Court justices and read the majority and dissenting opinions. Afterward, the judges answered a variety of questions raised by the students and posed for photographs with them. The program took place in the Ceremonial Courtroom.

A program highlight: Lois De Julio, the New Jersey public defender who represented the teenage defendant T.L.O., traveled to Washington, D.C. to share with the students her personal experiences and observations about accompanying her young client through this high-profile case.

Lead planners of the program, Society Board members Andrea Ferster, Jack Geise, and Channing Phillips promoted the program to the schools, and developed program materials for the teachers, including an overview of the T.L.O. case for use in the classroom, and Jack Geise visited several classrooms in advance to talk about the Fourth Amendment issues.