Friday, June 03, 2011

The pee-in-this-cup-please Tea Party Conservatives

Florida’s Governor Rick Scott has instituted a new drug testing policy and many tea party conservatives are cheering. People who say they believe in small government and who claim they love the constitution are cheering.

Florida’s new drug testing policy has two parts. All new hires for state jobs must pee in a cup as part of the job application process and once hired, they may at anytime be subject to a random drug test. The second part applies to welfare applicants and requires all adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screening.

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that government-mandated drug testing is a "search" governed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The fourth amendment reads,  "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 requires that the government have "probable cause" before a search warrant is authorized.

Random drug testing of people is not people, “being secure in their persons."  It is a search without any suspicion of wrong doing.  Without any suspicion that one has done anything wrong, to require a person submit his body fluids for government inspection seems like a much greater offense to our liberties than say, being forced to purchase health insurance.  Many conservatives, as are many liberals, are very selective about which parts of the constitution they really like. Many tea party conservatives love the second amendment but just don’t care that much for the 1st and 4th.

Many conservatives embraced the“show-me-your-papers” bill in Arizona before it was amended. They supported the original version when it allowed police to demand papers of anyone who had “contact” with the police. Many conservatives also opposed the right of Muslims to build a mosque in Murfressboro, going as far as to argue the First Amendment did not apply to Muslims, since Islam is not really a religion. Now, many conservatives are cheering this new Florida drug testing law. 

Do not get me wrong.  I think welfare rolls should be drastically reduced.  I understand the frustration of seeing people rewarded for making poor decisions. I think we should pick up where welfare reform left off and continue the phasing out of welfare. I realize that drug and alcohol abuse and crime is widespread in many public housing projects and welfare communities. That, however does not justify, a major expansion of government and constitutional violations as being carried out by Governor Rick Scott.

Government expansion and ignoring the Constitution is a slippery slope.  If welfare applicants can be required to pee in a cup to apply for welfare assistance, you may be next.  The same logic that applies to recipients of welfare could be applied to recipients of other government hand-outs.  Applicants for subsidized student loans, for recipients of FEMA natural disaster grants, for unemployment compensation or Social Security may be next. If you accept drug screening for state job applicants and welfare recipients as reasonable, what is going to be your principled argument of why you should be exempt when they apply it to you?

If you support this kind of intrusive, police-state government, fine; just don’t hand me that line about how much you love limited government and the constitution.

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  1. Nice article, Rod. It makes some good points that many haven't considered.

  2. I do not have an issue with forcing welfare recipients or state employees having to take a drug test as a condition of employment. Most of us in the private sector have to take a drug test and background check as a condition of employment, so why not government employees

  3. Dickster,
    It is true that many companies require drug test as a condition of employment. Why? Because of pressure from the Federal Government which requires all companies doing business with the government to have a “drug-free workplace” which many companies interpret as requiring drug test. Drug testing is popular because government pushes drug test. Once the government sets the standard, it spreads. Rather than accepting the standard and saying because I have to be tested you should have to be tested too, we should be trying to roll back the acceptance of diminishing privacy and freedom. We should be working to expand liberty not contract it. A drug test does not detect work place impairment. On Wednesday, a drug test does not tell your employer if you are high, it may tell him it you smoked a little pot on Saturday. Your employer should no more be entitled to that information that whether or not you went to church on Sunday, if you read a dirty book or visited internet porn sites or who you slept with.

  4. Rod:

    I prefer limited government at the federal level that stays out of taking care of people and leaving that to the states. Then there would be no "intrusive, police-state" policies. The states can then decide if they think draining the wallets of producers in order to redistribute wealth is a good idea even for state governments.

  5. In my opinion, a faa drug testing in the workplace is necessary for the safety of everyone. Especially if a certain job requires you to be sober while operating any machinery.