APPLICATION OF THE “EXCLUSIONARY
RULE” TO BAR USE OF ILLEGALLY SEIZED
EVIDENCE IN CIVIL SCHOOL DISCIPLINARY
In New Jersey v. T.L.O.,1 the Supreme Court granted certiorari to
decide whether the exclusionary rule is an appropriate remedy for
Fourth Amendment violations committed by school officials.2
Ultimately, the Court’s opinion did not address this question because
the Court found the search at issue was constitutional. The Court
expressly noted that its “determination that the search at issue in this
case did not violate the Fourth Amendment implies no particular
resolution of the question of the applicability of the exclusionary
rule.”3 In Thompson v. Carthage School District,4 the Eighth Circuit
resolved the exclusionary rule issue left open in T.L.O.
1. 469 U.S. 325 (1985).
2. The exclusionary rule issue was the basis of the Supreme Court’s interest in the T.L.O.
case. See id. at 327 (stating that the Court granted certiorari “to examine the appropriateness of the
exclusionary rule as a remedy for searches carried out in violation of the Fourth Amendment by
public school authorities”).
Id. at 333 n.3 (“[W]e do not implicitly determine that the exclusionary rule applies to the
fruits of unlawful searches conducted by school authorities.”).
For a discussion of the shortcomings of T.L.O., including its failure to discuss the exclusionary
rule, see Brenda Jones Walts, New Jersey v. T.L.O.: The Questions the Court Did Not Answer
About School Searches, 14 J.L. & EDUC. 421 (1985).
4. 87 F.3d 979 (8th Cir. 1996).
JOURNAL OF URBAN AND CONTEMPORARY LAW
The exclusionary rule provides that where the government has
obtained evidence illegally,5 the unconstitutionally acquired evidence
cannot be used at the trial against the defendant whose rights the
government has violated.6 The Constitution does not mandate the
exclusionary rule.7 The exclusionary rule was judicially created by the
Supreme Court in 1914.8 Since its creation, the announced
justification underlying the