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ACLU challenges Chicago Housing Authority's mandatory drug testing policy

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU-IL) [advocacy website] has filed a class-action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday against the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) [official website] challenging its policy requiring drug testing of residents in mixed-income developments. The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website], asserts that the "suspicionless" drug testing is a violation of residents' Fourth Amendment [text] rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Two years ago, the CHA sought to extend [Chicago Sun-Times report] the mixed-income housing drug-testing policy across the board to its 16,000 families in family and senior housing, requiring all adults living in or applying for housing to be tested for drugs. Amid a groundswell of outcry by residents and housing advocates, the agency quashed the proposal. The ACLU-IL has opposed [press release] the CHA drug tests for many years, advocating against them before the CHA Board and in other places.

Recently, mandatory suspicionless drug testing has become hotly contested. In May the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] Florida's Executive Order 11-58 [text, PDF], issued [JURIST report] in March 2011, which would subject all state employees to drug testing, regardless of whether they were suspected of drug use. Earlier this year, JURIST Guest Columnists John McAvoy and Ilan Wurman [JURIST op-eds] discussed the drug testing of welfare recipients. In February the Eleventh Circuit upheld [JURIST report] a lower court ruling [JURIST report] blocking a Florida law [Executive Order 11-58, PDF] that required welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits, stating that the law violated applicants' Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. In March the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) [advocacy website] filed suit [JURIST report] against the Solanco School District [school website] in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, on behalf of an 11-year-old girl who is required to submit to a drug test. The school policy requires that students who participate in extracurricular activities submit to random, suspicionless drug tests.

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