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Unformatted text preview: Ferguson - Essay assignment In Ferguson v. City of Charleston the petitioners charged the Medical University of South Carolina (´MUSC´) and the City of Charleston with breaching the Fourth Amendment of the U.S Constitution by conducting non consensual drug searches. The Policy M-7 set forth the procedure to be followed by the hospital staff to selectively drug test women who came in for prenatal care or delivery without their consent. Results were reported to the police who accordingly arrested the patients and charged them with an offense. The 4 th Amendment in the U.S Constitution rules that the search of an individual requires a warrant based on probable cause or reasonable suspicion. In the case of Ferguson the question arose as to whether the Policy M-7 was constitutional under the 4 th Amendment. In Vernonia School District v. Wayne Acton, the U.S Supreme court had ruled that exceptions of the 4 th Amendment’s requirements are possible, if a compelling governmental interest in the search can be identified. Consequently the question arises as to which extent Vernonia provides a precedent useful for judging the constitutionality of the MUSC M-7 policy in Ferguson . The main parallel providing a strong argument in favor of Vernonia as being an appropriate precedent for Ferguson is the fact that the searches in both cases were conducted as means of drug prevention. They were intended to serve as protection of life and deterrence. The States' interest in its citizen’s health, especially in its future citizens’ health, derives from its role as a guardian for their rights and obliges the State to interfere in its citizen’s privacy even in a custodial and tutelary way as in Vernonia. In Vernonia the Court ruled that student athletes have a lesser expectation of privacy since there is an element of 'communal undress' inherent in athletic participation. The same could be applied to expectant mothers: since they give birth to children who as members of society are subject to governmental duties of care, their right for privacy diminishes. Although certain similarities cannot be dismissed, there are also facts speaking against an applicability of Vernonia as a precedent for Ferguson. In contrast to the students in Vernonia , where the test results were mostly used internally at school and the student knew about the procedure, the women in Ferguson were totally unaware of the fact that the results of their...
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This note was uploaded on 09/12/2008 for the course LEGAL ENGL 001 taught by Professor Mason during the Spring '08 term at Bucerius Law School.
- Spring '08