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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Sept. 13, 2012

Students to simulate court case for annual Constitution Day program

The Northwest Missouri State University Department of Humanities and Social Sciences will present its annual Constitution Day program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom.

Daniel Smith, assistant professor of political science, and students from his constitutional law course will lead John Doe et al. v. Maryville R-II School District, a simulated case about the constitutionality of a real-world random drug testing policy.

The Northwest students, serving as attorneys, will represent fictional middle and high school students who are challenging the policy. Other students will represent the school district and role play as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Northwest students will introduce the simulation with a brief overview of the issue, the importance of the Constitution within the context and the decision-making process that will be demonstrated during the program. 

“The issue is significant for a number of reasons, but for purposes of Constitution Day it raises important questions regarding the scope of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and the legal rights of students generally,” Smith said. “It provides an excellent opportunity to address, in one case, the intersection between important policy issues and constitutional limits on government power.”

Smith notes the Maryville R-II School District implemented a random drug-testing policy at the start of the 2012-2013 academic year for middle and high school students who participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities or park a vehicle on school property.

Random drug-testing of students also was the basis for a 2002 case, Pottawatomie v. Earls, in which the United States Supreme Court upheld a Fourth Amendment challenge to random drug testing of all students engaged in extracurricular activities. The decision expanded previous rulings that limited such testing to students involved in competitive athletics and only where there was an existing drug problem in the school district.

Smith added, “Our purpose is to neither agree nor disagree with the policy, but to use it to discuss what are interesting and important questions about government power. We will present the legal case for the policy as well as the case against it.”

Although Northwest’s program will take place Sept. 18, Constitution Day is observed annually Sept. 17. The day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention Sept. 17, 1787.

For more information about Northwest's Constitution Day Program contact Daniel Smith at 660.562.1293 or by email at desmith@nwmissouri.edu.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468