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Federal Court Again Blocks Missouri College Drug Testing Plan

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #777)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

For the second time, a Missouri federal district court judge has granted a preliminary injunction blocking Linn State Technical College from drug testing all first-year and some returning students. The college had sought to implement the unprecedented drug testing regime in the fall of 2011, but had been blocked after the ACLU of Eastern Missouri filed suit on behalf of six students.

US District Judge Nanette Laughrey issued a preliminary injunction stopping the program and the reporting of early test results in the fall of 2011, but the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals overruled her in January, finding her order too broad. The ACLU of Eastern Missouri then filed a narrower challenge, which Laughrey has now granted.

"Today's decision affirms the privacy and personal dignity of hundreds of students who were forced to supply their college with urine samples before they could take any classes," said Tony Rothert, the ACLU-EM's legal director. "Without a compelling need, a search of your bodily fluids is exactly the type of unreasonable search and seizure that the Constitution prevents the government from imposing."

Linn State had argued that it should be allowed to drug test students without any suspicion because some of its programs, such as aviation maintenance and heavy equipment operations, had a public safety component. But the ACLU-EM argued that its program was overly broad, and in granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Laughrey cited the testimony of a mechanical engineering professor at the college who said his students handled nothing more dangerous than pencils.

While the federal courts have allowed suspicionless drug testing in limited circumstances -- in occupations affecting public safety, among drug law enforcement personnel, and among limited sets of high school students -- they have generally deemed it a violation of the Fourth Amendment's proscription against unwarranted searches and seizures. The Linn State case is the first one known where a college sought to test a broad swath of the student population without any particularized suspicion.

The case will be argued in July. In the meantime, the preliminary order barring drug testing is in effect and suggests that Judge Laughrey will grant a permanent injunction then.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Giordano (not verified)

The Board of Regents at Linn State Technical College need to understand that they are an educational institution, not a branch of the DEA.  Testing incoming students for drugs will do nothing besides eliminate those students not bright enough to beat a drug test. 

In some sense, evading a drug test might seem to constitute an entry level exam on college and professional survival skills, but what the Regents are going for is unconstitutional.  They betray their ignorance of what country they’re living in.  The U.S. doesn’t make college professors do the job of police officers.  It’s not like East Germany, at least not yet.

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 12:21am Permalink
kickback (not verified)

If anyone ask you to take a " drug test " , for whatever reason , tell them to give you a 5 gallon bucket and that you will give them something to " drug test " . Remember , " drug tester`s " are sociopath`s . Do not let a zombie dictate your life to you .

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 3:16am Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

Things like drug testing and forced coersion into treatment programs are just another piece of the puzzle that keeps the drug war's wheels turning.Even with the recent numbers showing that people are tired of this failed and costly war,it goes on.It's things like this program that further erode people's freedoms with no good effect on either drug use or drug abuse.This isn't just about cannabis,although you'd be hard pressed to know that sometimes.While marijuana isn't a magic potion that will cure each and every problem in the world.It's certainly not a substance that belongs as a sched#1 drug.Heroin,which is a s#1 drug and is banned from use in the US is also the best pain killer known to man.That a patient in America has to do 10 times the dosage of morphine necessary because of this ban is every bit as crazy as the people that say cannabis has no valid medical uses.Both drugs are of great medical value and are victims of an insane and outdated drug policy.How can they allow oxycontin and ban the real thing?How does this make any sense at all?Unless you're the head of a major pharmaceutical company?

Fri, 03/29/2013 - 7:17am Permalink

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