When The Drug War Invades The Chess Club

When The Drug War Invades The Chess Club
Posted by CN Staff on June 28, 2002 at 09:03:15 PT
By Janelle Brown
On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of the Board of Education vs. Earls that it is "reasonable" under the Fourth Amendment to randomly administer drug tests to all high school students who participate in extracurricular activities. In other words, it is now perfectly legal for a school to force a cheerleader or the president of the chess club to pee in a cup -- anytime -- to keep their membership in after-school programs. The decision didn't come as a surprise. During oral arguments on the case in March, several Supreme Court justices expressed strong support for student drug testing. 
At one point, Justice Antonin Scalia taunted Graham Boyd, the ACLU lawyer who argued the case on behalf of defendant Lindsay Earls: "So long as you have a bunch of druggies who are orderly in class, the school can take no action. That's what you want us to rule?" At another juncture, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Boyd a hypothetical question about whether a district could have two schools, one a "druggie school" and one with drug testing. As for the first, Justice Kennedy said, "no parent would send a child to that school, except maybe your client." (Earls, a former honor student at Tecumseh High School in Oklahoma, had objected to drug testing as an intrusion on her right to privacy.) Even though they had anticipated defeat, opponents of the war on drugs -- and its new battlefield in the classroom -- found it deeply disappointing. These critics argue that by targeting students, particularly those who participate in extracurricular activities, be they athletes, prom queens or Future Farmers of America, participating schools unfairly single out students who are often the least likely to be doing drugs in the first place, and drive students at risk for drug use away from the activities that might take the place of getting high. Furthermore, they argue, drug testing erodes the privacy of high school students; and it has never proven to be an effective method of reducing drug use among kids. Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion for the case, clearly wasn't swayed by these arguments. "Students affected by this policy have a limited expectation of privacy," he wrote. "This policy reasonably serves the School District's important interest in detecting and preventing drug use among its students." In an interview following the ruling, Boyd, who is the director of the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project, talked about the impact of the decision, which he believes will result in more drug testing in the nation's schools, and, perhaps more importantly, a serious erosion of constitutional rights to privacy for everyone -- students and adults. What's the message being sent by this ruling?Basically, it's disappointing on a lot of levels. It certainly erodes students' privacy in a way that has never been done by the court before, and really puts students on par with prisoners. In his decision, Justice Thomas focuses almost dispositively on the fact that students are in what he calls the "custody of the school" and that drugs are themselves dangerous. There's no drug problem in this school in question, no safety issue ... but the mere fact of being a student seems to be, in Thomas' opinion, a reason to drug-test. The logic of the opinion is so different from Veronia, Ore. A previous Supreme Court ruling that allowed drug testing of student athletes only. In that case, there were a lot of reasons to uphold the drug testing: There was a drug problem in general, which was centered around athletes, who were school role models. This reason, and others, were absent in Tecumseh. Do you expect schools across the nation to immediately start or expand drug-testing programs? The good news in this is that schools have not previously been that responsive to the Supreme Court on this issue. It's been seven years since the Veronia decision, and still only 5 percent of all schools drug-test their athletes. Cost is one factor [drug tests cost upwards of $25 per person] but it's also a question of effectiveness. A newspaper reported yesterday that the Dublin, Ohio, school board decided to stop drug-testing students, saying that it was ineffective. They said they knew that the Supreme Court was about to rule on this issue, but they didn't care: They wanted to do what would actually help the kids. I think it's not going to be a legal question for most schools; it's a question of what works. The politics around drug testing are very thick but the evidence of it actually helping anybody is absent. And most school boards are controlled by people who want to help kids, so they aren't going to go down this road. So, you don't think many school districts were waiting for a Supreme Court go-ahead?  I haven't heard of a single school district that is doing this, but I'm sure they are out there. What invariably happens is a small number of parents start to make a lot of noise about needing to do something about drugs; and drug testing is an easy decision that shows that the school board is tough on drugs. It's not that different from what Congress does with mandatory minimum sentencing: It's a cheap political gesture that keeps voters happy but in the cold light of day doesn't hold up as a meaningful action. No one thinks raising jail terms for crack possession is going to have an effect, but it gives them something to campaign on. Everyone knows that drug testing is at best a waste of money, but it makes school boards look good. The Bush administration's lawyers have suggested that they are interested in pushing on to test all students for drugs. Do you think this is likely to happen? I don't think that it's going to sweep the nation as a popular cause to drug-test all students, but sure, I think some school district will probably push it to the limits to see what happens. I've already litigated such a case in Lockney, Texas, where a school began drug testing all their students; but there, the very conservative judge struck it down.  Do you think the current Supreme Court would lean towards drug testing all students if the issue came up? I think you've got to read a lot into Justice Breyer's opinion. In one little paragraph he says that for the student who really doesn't want to [be tested] they could always just not participate in the extracurricular activities; and he acknowledges that this is a serious matter, but a very different matter than saying the kid would be expelled from school altogether. That's really what it comes down to in the question of drug testing all students: What do you do with a kid who refuses to be tested? To say that a kid can't be in the choir if they refuse the test, that's harsh. But say that they can't get a public school education at all if they object? That's awful. So, what recourse is there currently for extracurricular students who don't want to take this test? Do they have a leg to stand on? You've got to look further down the road. Drug testing doesn't exist in most schools right now, and if schools want to do this they have to hold hearings and get input from the public. So it's important for students and parents to engage in that process, bring information into those meetings. What's nice is this isn't just about people complaining about privacy; it's also about educating school boards that this kind of drug testing is counterproductive. That's a very empowering argument, and we're doing everything we can to really encourage students and their parents to exercise their own voice.  In the Supreme Court decision, though, Justice Thomas wrote that "testing students who participate in extracurricular activities is a reasonably effective means of addressing the school district's legitimate concerns in preventing, deterring and detecting drug use." Why did he write this? Is there, as he suggests, proof that it was reasonably effective? Your guess is as good as mine: There is none. There really is no evidence whatsoever that drug testing is at all effective. The evidence is the opposite. Thomas also suggested that the Supreme Court wasn't ruling that the decision to drug-test was "wise," just that it was constitutional. It is affirmatively unwise, in the view of most experts. In a limited sense, one could read this as support of school-board discretion. I hope the boards will be responsible in use of that discretion.  What message does this decision send about student privacy rights? Is this essentially arguing that students have no Fourth Amendment rights anymore? This comes close to saying that high school kids have no Fourth Amendment rights. It doesn't completely upset the balance, but it does suggest a drug-war exception in schools. Lower courts are going to be tempted to endorse any kind of anti-drug measure a school wants to take. We'll fight that, it's not a foregone conclusion, but that's one of the dangers of today's decision.  What's the likelihood that these rights will ever be returned to high school students? Is this a slippery slope of privacy loss that is impossible to climb back up? It's a huge concern. When the Supreme Court rules, it often remains precedent for a generation at least. And they've now set the bar very low for intrusions on student privacy in the name of the war on drugs. Of equal concern for me is that what happens to young people in the privacy realm could also have an impact on the privacy rights of that generation when they come of age. One of the fundamental ways the Fourth Amendment is measured is by reasonable but subjective expectations of privacy: "Do I personally feel offended by this?" If I don't feel it's a big deal, the government can do it. To the extent that kids become accustomed to various intrusions on their privacy, because of drug policies, they have no standing to object to other intrusions as they get older. What other long term impact do you believe this decision will have on kids? I'm going to make a mischievous argument. I think that in some ways the best thing that government officials could do to bring an end to the war on drugs is continue this trend of cracking down on young people. For every student who is drug-tested, for every student who has to prove her innocence by passing a drug test, you'll have one more student that questions the drug war. Every time they teach D.A.R.E. and teach lies to kids, you'll have one more kid that doesn't believe in the drug war. Needless and groundless drug testing of high school students is just taking one more step down the road of having people say we've had enough. Note: ACLU lawyer Graham Boyd discusses the impact of Thursday's Supreme Court decision to allow drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular school activities.About the writer:Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon. Newshawk: Michael SegestaSource: (US Web)Author: Janelle BrownPublished: June 28, 2002 Copyright: 2002 SalonWebsite: salon salonmagazine.comRelated Articles & Web Site:ACLU Tests Backed for Broader Pool of Students Expands School Drug Tests Court Okays Random Drug Testing Pupils Face Random Drug Testing 
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Comment #12 posted by ekim on July 01, 2002 at 19:51:00 PT
FL: Editorial: An Erosion Of Rights
US FL: Editorial: An Erosion Of Rights
Newshawk: chip
Pubdate: Mon, 01 Jul 2002
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2002 St. Petersburg Times
Contact: letters
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)AN EROSION OF RIGHTS In ruling that random drug testing in schools is constitutional, the Supreme Court is encouraging the indiscriminate violation of student privacy. What lesson should our children learn from the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision upholding the constitutionality of widespread, random drug tests in our schools? That Americans should be happy to be subjected to demeaning searches even when they have done nothing to warrant suspicion of criminal behavior? That our schools have no better uses for their limited time and money? Or that a majority of our current justices have even less appreciation for our Fourth Amendment than the average sixth-grader picks up in civics class? Everyone knows that illegal drugs are a serious problem in our schools, and in the rest of society. However, the problem does not justify, on either practical or constitutional grounds, the indiscriminate violation of people's privacy. 
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Comment #11 posted by Jose Melendez on June 30, 2002 at 16:43:52 PT
I have not heard from Joyce since I quoted Nixon's comments about "fags and Jews"..
She pretended to be insulted, and stopped emailing. The consistent thing about Joyce is that she refuses to acknowledge when her points are proven to be false. Isn't that right, Joyce?
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Comment #10 posted by freedom fighter on June 30, 2002 at 15:14:24 PT
It's Joyce's one of the few alter personalities. The writings are similar to me..ff
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Comment #9 posted by Industrial Strength on June 29, 2002 at 13:32:46 PT
Dan B
Now that's some educated troll bashing!
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Comment #8 posted by Jose Melendez on June 29, 2002 at 08:22:52 PT
the following is a trap for prohibitionists
Does anone know how to contact Grandad that seems to deceitfully support the criminalization of safe, effective cannabis? We should tell him of what we think of what he is (or they are) doing.I agree, Grandad is probably a troll.
It's great, though, because the internet makes it simpler to expose prohibition as fraud, even treason.
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Comment #7 posted by Dan B on June 29, 2002 at 06:32:26 PT:
Grandad is a Fascist Troll
Grandad is a troll who lurks here and pops up now and again to spew forth this kind of garbage. He's likely the same person as "Grandma" (from a while ago) and has no real purpose other than to shoot lies from the hip, then duck and cover, never to support his lies because he knows his lies are insupportable. You are absolutely correct, ekim, that Grandad cannot back up the 52,000 drug deaths figure. It is about 4 times the actual rate of drug-caused deaths (approx. 16,000), and that figure represents a 1000% (10 times) increase over the number of drug-related deaths in 1980 (1600), when the war on some drugs kicked into high gear under Reagan--solid proof that the war on some drugs increases rather than decreases the harms associated with drugs. If Grandad's figure were correct (which it isn't; it's merely stolen from a lie by General Barry McCaffrey, whom we are all, I think, missing terribly right now), that would mean that the war on some drugs has increased drug-caused deaths in this country 4000%, or 40 times! Gee, Grandad, what a glowing statistic to add to your arsenal of stupidity!Drug testing has been proven scores of times in both publicly and privately-funded studies to be inefficient, ineffective, and completely inappropriate in a so-called "free" society. Grandad doesn't care because he wants the country to be as inefficient, ineffective and inappropriate as possible. That just means more power for those who, like Grandad, are inefficient, ineffective, and inappropriate.Sieg Heil, Grandad!Dan B
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Comment #6 posted by Industrial Strength on June 28, 2002 at 22:38:46 PT
Surely you jest?
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Comment #5 posted by ekim on June 28, 2002 at 21:26:41 PT
funny how someone can be called a lie--or
by someone who clams that----" And it will help reduce the 52,000 drug related deaths a year nearly all of which start with a shared joint from a schoolmate. " I say you cannot prove what you just said. It is a very hatefull statement and completly undefensible. Your lack of understanding about which elements are caught in testing underscores the obsurdity of testing itself. No drinking or coke or herion will be picked up after a few days say from Mon. or Mon. Why all the hate against cannabis. Why no mention of drinks. Why are you taking the corp. line that cannabis should be removed from the face of the planet instead of wondering why such a wonderfull god given food of life is being lied about. In truth it is very distructive not to allow the youth to be taught about this plant and how it has lived along side us. To show how it has given a nutrient boost to our diet, how it has clothed us, how it has made sails to send us all over this wonderfull globe, and most of all how it will help us as the planet heats up and the rays of the sun burn more deeply into most of the plants killing them and reducing the out put but increasing the yeld of the cannabis plant.
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Comment #4 posted by Grandad on June 28, 2002 at 19:45:50 PT
Supreme Court on Student Drug Testing
Boyd was flat lying in his answer to the question is drug testing effective. In schools that test all kids, it virtually eliminates drug use. The few that are caught usually say, "Yeah, I did it, it was dumb and I'll never do it again." Only a very few ever repeat a positive test and then the worst that happens is that they get assigned to an alternative school with the other incorrigible druggies. When the military started drug testing it dropped drug use by 90 percent. There are scientific studies that show student drug testing to be effective in reducing drug use.   Get used to it; student drug testing is here to stay. And it will help reduce the 52,000 drug related deaths a year nearly all of which start with a shared joint from a schoolmate. 
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Comment #3 posted by p4me on June 28, 2002 at 10:38:41 PT
It looks like Salon will die
It was sad to read in the Independent in the UK that Salon is in deep financial trouble and will probably not survive four more months: few weeks ago we in North Carolina thought that both Virginia and North Carolina had a $1.5 billion shortfall. Now the budget has to be approved before July 1 and there is a whisper of a $2 billion dollar shortfall. The governor's budget proposal got the mildest of criticism when he showed revenue of $300 million from a lottery that is not even legal in North Carolina. Even if it were legal most thought revenue for state consumption would be half of that amount. Maybe the governor hired some Arthur Anderson book cooks. Who knows and who cares seems to be the appropriate question of the day.1,2
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 28, 2002 at 09:57:20 PT
Times-Dispatch NBC12 - Drug Testing Poll 
 Do you agree with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow random drug testing on students who participate in inter-school extracurricular activities?
Current Results:
Yes: 122 -- 56% 
No: 89 -- 41% 
Undecided: 4 -- 1%
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Comment #1 posted by WolfgangWylde on June 28, 2002 at 09:16:10 PT
It's Friday night kids....
...drink yourself stupid (or comatose, or dead), drop some acid, do some blow, maybe huff some paint'll be clean by Monday. But whatever you do, don't smoke any marijuana, the absolute rock bottom least harmful substance available, because you'll test dirty for days on end.
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