A federal judge ruled last week that a Missouri technical college’s mandatory drug-testing policy violates the constitution.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Linn State Technical College (LSTC) on behalf of six students. The ACLU claimed the school’s drug testing policy was a violation of students’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures.
In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey wrote, “The lack of a substantial and real public safety risk alone compels the conclusion that the drug-testing policy is unconstitutional as applied to these students.”
In 2011, Linn State started testing all first-year students and some returning students for drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone. The ACLU expects that at least 450 students who were forced to pay $50 to have their samples tested will receive refunds.
According to the school’s website, this is the reasoning behind the drug screening program:
“The mission of LSTC is to prepare students for profitable employment and a life of learning. Drug screening is becoming an increasingly important part of the world of work. It is also believed it will better provide a safe, healthy, and productive environment for everyone who learns and works at LSTC by detecting, preventing, and deterring drug use and abuse among students.”
Linn State attorney Kent Brown said the school will appeal Laughrey’s ruling, STL Today reported.
“Like most Americans, Missourians are tired of the War on Drugs and policies that assume that everyone is guilty of illegal drug use,” said Jeffrey Mittman, the executive director of ACLU-East Missouri. “The court recognized that illusory safety concerns can be used ‘to mask unconstitutional purposes.’”
ACLU legal director Tony Rothert added, “Forcing students to provide urine samples violates their constitutional rights.”