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Law School Case Brief

Hill v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n - 7 Cal. 4th 1, 26 Cal. Rptr. 2d 834, 865 P.2d 633 (1994)


The Privacy Initiative is to be interpreted and applied in a manner consistent with the probable intent of the body enacting it: the voters of the State of California. When the language of an initiative measure does not point to a definitive resolution of a question of interpretation, it is appropriate to consider indicia of the voters' intent other than the language of the provision itself. Such indicia include the analysis and arguments contained in the official ballot pamphlet.


Plaintiffs Jennifer Hill and other student athletes at Stanford University ("Stanford") filed a lawsuit in California state court against defendant National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA") seeking to enjoin the NCAA's drug testing program of student athletes. Intervenor Stanford intervened on the students' behalf. Th students claimed that the drug testing program violated their right to privacy secured by article I, section 1 of the California Constitution. The trial court agreed with the students and entered judgment permanently enjoining the NCAA from testing Stanford athletes. The trial court ruled, specifically, that the NCAA had failed to establish a compelling need for the program and failed to establish that there were no alternative means of accomplishing the NCAA's objectives. The court of appeal affirmed. The NCAA appealed.


Did the NCAA's drug testing program violate the students' state constitutional right to privacy?




The state supreme court reversed the appellate court's judgment and remanded the case with instructions to direct entry of a final judgment in favor of the NCAA. The court found that although the right to privacy under the California Constitution could be enforced against private entities such as the NCAA, the NCAA's drug testing program did not violate that right to privacy. The NCAA's program affected protected privacy interests. However, by participating in athletic activity that required physical examinations, the students had a diminished expectation of privacy; moreover, the students had advance notice of the testing and an opportunity to consent to the program. Disqualification from competition, the consequence of refusal to be tested, did not render consent involuntary, since the students had no legal right to participate in sports. Also, the NCAA's program was reasonably calculated to further the countervailing interests of safeguarding the integrity of intercollegiate sports, the court ruled.

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