Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Why Rick Scott’s Drug Testing Scheme Violates The Constitution

By Ian Millhiser on June 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm

"Why Rick Scott’s Drug Testing Scheme Violates The Constitution"

Share:

google plus icon

On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a law requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug testing — potentially providing thousands of new customers to Solantic, a company Scott used to run that is now owned by a trust in his wife’s name. The ACLU responded almost immediately with a lawsuit challenging this law, and, as Professor Adam Winkler explains, this lawsuit is very likely to succeed:

Random drug testing is what is known as a “suspicion-less” search. Even without probable cause to believe the person required to pee in a cup has done anything wrong, he or she is forced to turn over bodily fluids for government inspection.

The Supreme Court has upheld the ability of government to mandate random drug tests in a few limited circumstances. The earliest cases held that people with sensitive government jobs in high-risk public safety environments, like railroad operators, or involving national security, like border and customs agents, could be required to submit to testing. The Court’s most expansive ruling allowed public high schools to randomly test student athletes, even though the public safety concerns weren’t nearly as apparent.

High school students, however, have historically enjoyed fewer constitutional protections than mature adults, and courts have generally frowned upon random drug testing of them. Indeed, courts have stuck down policies just like the ones put in place by Florida this week. (See, for example, here and here.)

Scott’s self-enriching drug testing plan is merely the latest example of Republicans ignoring the Constitution to push their own partisan agenda. Indeed, GOP attempts to rewrite the Constitution to achieve their own partisan objectives have become so common that Scott’s assault on the Fourth Amendment is almost passé:

  • Ending Senate Elections: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) recently claimed that the ratification of the 17th Amendment, which allows voters to elect their own senators, “was a mistake.” Scalia agrees.
  • Social Security and Medicare: Even though the House GOP’s plan to eliminate Medicare has thrown the GOP’s poll numbers into a nose dive, several GOP senators want to repeal Medicare and Social Security by having them declared unconstitutional.

Scott, however, may win a prize as the first GOPer to sign an unconstitutional law that may be designed to increase his own already massive fortune.

‹ PREVIOUS
REPORT: Senate Confirmed A Smaller Percentage Of Obama’s Judges Than Any Other President In History

NEXT ›
Justiceline: June 3, 2011

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the ThinkProgress Privacy Policy and agree to the ThinkProgress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.