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HIGH COURT URGED TO ALLOW DRUG TESTS OF STUDENT ATHLETES

An Oregon school district and the Clinton administration urged the Supreme Court Tuesday to allow mandatory drug tests of all student athletes in schools where drug use is a problem.

But an Oregon teen-ager's lawyer said such drug-testing violates the privacy rights of public school students.

"This is being compelled by the government. They're watching you do it. They're taking your urine. They're testing it to see what secrets are therein," argued Portland lawyer Thomas Christ as his 15-year-old client, James Acton, watched from the courtroom audience.

Christ said the Vernonia, Ore., school district had tried to force anyone who wanted to participate in sports to undergo "an intrusive, degrading" test.

But Timothy Volpert, the school district's lawyer, said allowing drug tests of only those students actually suspected of using drugs would not have the same deterrent effect as random tests.

Justices David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O'Connor appeared to be troubled by random drug tests in schools.

Justice O'Connor twice asked Volpert whether drug tests for students suspected of wrongdoing had been considered.

"You didn't ever use reasonable suspicion," she said. "Why not? Doesn't the Fourth Amendment require it?"

The justices are expected to decide by late June whether random testing is a constitutionally acceptable way to fight that problem

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