The Rehnquist Court (1986–2005)

Criminal Justice

Can government officials drug-test pregnant women in efforts to reduce crack babies?

No, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6–3 in Ferguson v. City of Charleston that the city violated the Fourth Amendment rights of pregnant women by testing them without their consent for drugs. The majority reasoned that the primary purpose of the policy was a law enforcement policy that failed to adequately protect the privacy rights of the women. The city contended that it had a special needs rationale that justified its policy—to protect the health and safety of women and their children. However, the Court ruled against the city, focusing on the fact that “the immediate objective of the searches was to generate evidence for law enforcement purposes.”


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