US Pupils Face Random Drug Testing 

US Pupils Face Random Drug Testing 
Posted by CN Staff on June 02, 2002 at 08:03:26 PT
By Lawrence Donegan in San Francisco
Source: Observer UK
Twenty-seven million schoolchildren are facing the prospect of random drug testing after a landmark court case described by self-styled religious fundamentalist 'drug warriors' in the United States as their greatest victory. It is a startling example of the ideological shift in American politics since George W. Bush moved into the White House. The Supreme Court is expected within the next few days to rule against a teenager from the Midwest who was forced to undergo a drug test when she signed up to sing in the school choir. Lindsay Earls, a former pupil at Tecumseh High, Oklahoma, had to urinate into a cup while a teacher listened outside the lavatory cubicle. 
She said the test - which proved negative - was physically degrading and a gross infringement of her civil rights. 'I thought it was real intrusion into my privacy,' says Earls, now 19 and a student at a top university. 'If I'm not taking drugs, then I shouldn't have to prove myself innocent.' Her case went before the court earlier this year, where the US Solicitor General's office, headed by Bush ally Ted Olsen, startled - and delighted right-wing anti-drug groups by arguing there was no constitutional bar to drug testing every pupil in the state system. 'Five years ago we were going nowhere, now we have the government on our side. Random testing for all pupils is a done deal,' said DeForest Rathbone, who has been fighting a 20-year 'drug war' at the head of the National Institute of Citizen Anti-Drug Policy. 'Thanks be to almighty God for coming on to our side and helping us protect the kids from drugs.' Despite his low-profile position, Olsen has been leading the rightward march of the Bush administration, setting out the government's ideological position on a range of issues - from abortion rights to gun laws - where he has quietly supported causes previously considered beyond the pale even by Republican administrations. Currently, only pupils taking part in athletic activities can legally be made to undergo random drug testing, but Tecumseh High was one of several schools which unilaterally decided to test participants in all extra-curricular activities, such as chess and debating. Earls's legal challenge has been backed by Graham Boyd, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, who argued that a random drug-testing programme was both an infringement of constitutional rights and of dubious worth in fighting the spread of drug use. 'If drug testing becomes rites of passage for an entire generation of students, then that same generation is going to enter adulthood with lower expectations of the privacy they should be entitled to,' Boyd said yesterday. He added that there was no evidence that random testing in other sectors, such as the workplace, reduced drug use. Testing in schools might force teenage drug users to switch from marijuana - which remains detectable in the body for weeks - to harder drugs like crack cocaine, which leaves the bloodstream after 24 hours. He said he was optimistic the court would rule in his client's favour but admitted an adverse decision could affect the 27 million pupils in state schools. 'If we end up losing this case and drug testing becomes widespread the only happy note to come out of the affair would be that it will radicalise young people against the government's so-called war on drugs - they will resent being accused of misconduct when they have done nothing wrong. They are turning the war on drugs into a war against teenagers - and it could backfire.' Despite the ACLU's public optimism, most observers believe the Supreme Court's built-in right-wing majority will vote to extend testing. 'When you have got kids involved, that's a battlefield that's going to favour conservative, parent-type groups,' said William McColl, director of the Washington-based Drug Policy Alliance, which campaigns for liberal drug reform. One such 'parent-type group' is the Florida Drug Free America Foundation, which is partly funded by grants from the Bush administration. Katherine Ford, its director, said yesterday her organisation supported random testing in all state schools. 'I'm something of a nut when it comes to the issue of drug testing,' said Ford, who said she regularly tested her own 17-year-old daughter. 'If a student is suspected of having head lice, school nurses will check all the other students and if any of them have head lice they will be sent home. No one claims it is a violation of a child's civil rights to have their head checked for lice. It is no different with drugs - except the harm that comes from using drugs is far greater.' Note: The Supreme Court is set to reject a teenager's challenge, in a victory for the Right.Drugs Uncovered: Observer Special:,11908,686419,00.htmlSource: Observer, The (UK)Author: Lawrence Donegan in San FranciscoPublished: Sunday, June 2, 2002Copyright: 2002 The ObserverContact: letters Articles & Web Sites:ACLU Uncovered: Observer Special Supreme Court Vs Teens Say No To Drug Tests Privacy vs. Safety
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Comment #5 posted by boballen13 on June 02, 2002 at 14:40:18 PT:
I attended a wonderful graduation for the Lewiston High School in Idaho... lots of nice blue uniforms and plenty of guns... but no worries, they arent the threat... we are... we have allowed police to dictate how truley dangerous a highschool student with a bookbag can be... so when its highschool grad time... its as joyous as a felon being kicked out into the world...god i hope they all have a ride home from the stonewalls and barbwire... America is inducing cancer into the bloodstream... i dont want to have a uniformed copper sharing a graduation picture with my niece...
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Comment #4 posted by null on June 02, 2002 at 12:46:54 PT
nice quote
I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.
Ulysses S. Grant in his inaugural address, March 4, 1869We can only hope that if this law is passed it creates a ground swell of anti-drugwar youth who will come to fruition as voters in 3-7 years. Perhaps then the vote will truly be rocked. Although, I have immense hopes for the midterm elections and the next presidential campaign should be something after the last one's audacity. 
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Comment #3 posted by WolfgangWylde on June 02, 2002 at 12:43:18 PT
No surprises here...
...The ONLY time the Supreme Court has ever ruled against drug testing was in a case where the tests were to be applied to LEGISLATORS and JUDGES. I guess a drug-free mind is important for choir, but not for passing laws and ruling on court cases.As for the kiddies, the sooner they learn the score, the better.
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Comment #2 posted by bongathon on June 02, 2002 at 11:54:44 PT:
hi mom, here's my pee for the week, thanks for the car keys, gee, i sure am glad you trust me so much.
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo MD on June 02, 2002 at 10:39:32 PT:
Lice are Contagious
Although it is arguable that peer-pressure could increase drug use in teens, it is ludicrous to claim an analogy to head lice.Should this ruling go sour as all expect, there will be a backlash among youth, and a switch to binge drinking, and use of vastly more dangerous drugs. Urine testing is really about cannabis, and nothing else. When school systems see how cost-ineffective it is, schoolboards will be forced to abandon it if they still want to buy important items, such as books.
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