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Federal Court rules college's mandatory drug test policy unconstitutional

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [official website] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] that State Technical College of Missouri [official website] cannot continue mandatory drug tests for all students. After preliminary injunctions and a permanent injunction were reversed, an en banc panel of the Eighth Circuit determined that such a universal and mandatory policy is unconstitutional and affirmed the district court's grant of a permanent and prospective injunction. However, the panel also affirmed the district court ruling that a program-by-program analysis was appropriate, permitting the college to require drug tests in five current programs that are identified as safety-sensitive programs. The class action lawsuit against the school was filed in 2011 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and their Missouri branch [official websites]. In a statement [press release] after the decision, one attorney stated, "Our victory should serve as a warning to colleges and universities across the country: mandatory, suspicionless drug testing of the entire student body is inefficient, ineffective, and grossly unconstitutional."

Similar universal, mandatory drug policies in other atmospheres have come under fire in recent years as well. In December 2014 the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] ruled that a Florida law mandating welfare applicants undergo drug tests before receiving benefits is unconstitutional [JURIST report]. In August 2013 North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory [official website] vetoed a bill [JURIST report] that would have mandated drug testing for some public benefit applicants in the state. In April 2012 a judge for the the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida [official website] blocked an executive order [JURIST report] that mandates Florida state government agencies provide pre-employment drug screening for all prospective employees and provide for random drug testing of all current agency employees regardless of classification. In March 2012 the ACLU of Pennsylvania [official website] sued a school district [JURIST report] in the state on behalf of an 11-year-old girl regarding a school policy that required students who participate in extracurricular activities to submit to random, suspicionless drug tests.

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