National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab

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National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 2, 1988
Decided March 21, 1989
Full case name National Treasury Employees Union et al. v. Von Raab, Commissioner, United States Customs Service
Citations 489 U.S. 656 (more)
Prior history Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals of Fifth Circuit
The United States Customs Service's drug testing imposed on its employees does not violate the Fourth Amendment.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Kennedy, joined by Rehnquist, White, O'Connor, Blackmun
Dissent Scalia, joined by Stevens
Dissent Marshall, joined by Brennan
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. IV

National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab 489 U.S. 656 (1989) was a United States Supreme Court case involving the Fourth Amendment and its implication on drug testing programs. The majority of the court upheld the drug testing program in United States Customs Service.


In 1986, the U.S. Customs Service imposed a drug testing program for "employees seeking transfer or promotion to positions having direct involvement in drug interdiction," required to carry firearms, or have access to classified information. The National Treasury Employees Union sued and alleged that the program was violative of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of the government. The union then appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals ruling with regard to positions involving drug interdiction and firearms. The ruling for classified information was held over, as the Supreme Court determined that the U.S. Customs Service too broadly included employee groups who would not generally have access to high levels of classified information.


The majority decision authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy upheld the constitutionality of the drug testing program, reasoning that the employees of customs service had "diminished expectation of privacy." Justice Marshall wrote a dissent in which he was joined by Justice Brennan; Justice Scalia wrote a dissent in which Justice Stevens joined.

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