This ruling highlights the debate over the issue of government drug testing for recipients of welfare and other benefits. Why can't the welfare recipient be required to pass a drug test to get a check from public funds, while a working person can be required to pass a drug test to get a paycheck? The answer lies in the Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Basically, this means that any time the government wants to search your person, house, papers, or effects, it has to provide specific evidence to show that the search will provide evidence of illegal activity. And Judge Scriven apparently felt that being poor and seeking government assistance does not constitute good evidence.
But if being poor isn't sufficient evidence to require a drug test, then how does having a job count as sufficient evidence? Simply put, it doesn't. The Constitution does not regulate the conduct of private entities (with an exception that just doesn't apply here). So, a private company can require drug tests of its employees, and the Fourth Amendment won't stop it. It will stop the government, though -- the government is not allowed to randomly drug test its employees unless they are in a sensitive position or do something to raise the suspicion that they are under the influence. It may seem unfair that poor people can collect money from the government without jumping through the hoops that middle-class workers must, but it is constitutional.
By Chris Wencker