Hesperia, CA asked in Constitutional Law for California

Q: Do ballparks, stadiums, and public schools have a legal right to search our backpacks/purses?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Timothy Alan Provis
Timothy Alan Provis
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Port Washington, WI
  • Licensed in California

A: Ballparks and stadiums are privately owned businesses and you have no constitutional privacy rights you can enforce against them. The 4th and 14th Amendment only protect you against official intrusions into your privacy. So, ballparks and stadiums make it a condition of your admission that you submit to searches. (If you turn over your ticket and read the fine print on the back you can sometimes read these conditions.) So, ballparks and stadiums have a legal contract right to search you. That is, when you bought the ticket you agreed to the contract condition of a search. You are free to refuse the search but then you will not be admitted because that was the agreement you made.

Public schools are another matter. Warrantless searches of students have been found not to violate the 4th & 14th Amendment by the U.S. Supreme Court. See generally Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995) and Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002)

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