A few weeks ago, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed an idea as ill-conceived as it is unconstitutional: drug-testing any American “before you get any kind of federal aid.”
Gingrich’s idea for a national law came on the heels of a rash of new state legislation this year requiring welfare recipients to first submit to a drug test. The results in Florida showed just how silly the proposal is, with a mere two percent of welfare recipients testing positive for drugs.
ThinkProgress spoke with another Republican presidential contender this week, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, to get his thoughts on Gingrich’s proposal. Santorum poured cold water on the idea, refusing to support a federal requirement for drug-testing individuals who receive aid. “The states should make that decision,” said the Pennsylvania Republican.
KEYES: You talked about welfare reform a lot and your role in bringing it in the 90s. The biggest debate on it recently is whether or not we ought to be drug-testing recipients of that.
SANTORUM: As you know, my feeling was cap it, put two requirements – time limits, work requirement – and let the states make the decisions.
KEYES: So a federal drug-testing requirement is not something you would support?
SANTORUM: That’s not something…it should be a state program, the states should make that decision.
As ThinkProgress’ Tanya Somanader notes, Gingrich’s proposal “would likely run headlong into the Constitution” because “random drug testing is a suspicion-less search,” the likes of which courts have repeatedly struck down. Unfortunately for Santorum, his proposal to allow states to engage in suspicion-less drug testing is also unconstitutional.