(AP) MIAMI – A Miami federal judge has declared that Gov. Rick Scott’s order requiring drug testing for state workers is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled Thursday that blanket testing of some 85,000 workers violates the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The ruling could eventually have an impact on a new state law also permitting random worker drug testing.
That’s right! You can’t just order drug tests for everybody, that’s unconstitutional! Drug tests can only be ordered in very specific circumstances, like applying for private sector jobs, having a private sector job and being randomly selected, having any job that is considered “safety-related” or “high-risk”, having a job with sensitive security clearances, getting into an accident or becoming injured on the job, being pulled over on the roads for suspicion of impairment, pursuing athletics as your profession, pursuing athletics as an amateur, pursuing athletics at an educational institution, being suspected of having drugs at an educational institution, joining service organizations at an educational institution, pursuing art, music, or drama at an educational institution, joining chess club, 4-H, or Honor Society at an educational institution, applying for food assistance, housing assistance, utilities assistance, or unemployment assistance in some states, and upon the order of the president declaring you an “enemy combatant” (under which declaration a drug test is the least of your problems).
The lawyer for Florida had the gall to say that workers who object to drug tests could just “find employment elsewhere”. Hey, that’s great! How ’bout we just require workers to be strip-searched before shift, just to be sure they’re not smuggling any drugs into the workplace? If they don’t like it, they can quit and find work elsewhere! How ’bout we require workers to reveal their Facebook usernames and passwords so we can know whether they’re using drugs on their spare time? Workers are free to quit, after all, if they don’t like.
Every case about drug testing that comes up requiring state workers to pee in a cup gets squashed because the Fourth Amendment applies to the government trying to violate our privacy. But when it comes to the private sector, the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply, because we the workers are just engaging in a voluntary employment relationship with our corporate overlords. Gosh, if you don’t like it, you can just work elsewhere, except that every place you could work with your particular skill requires a pee test. After all, jobs are plentiful and easy to find and you always have the freedom to just be homeless.
I don’t think that was the intent of the Fourth Amendment:
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.
The history of the Fourth Amendment traces back to writs of assistance and general warrants that had been abused by the king against the colonial subjects in America. I offer that the “right of the people to be secure” depends not on that which they are to be secure from, any more than the Second Amendment right to bear arms depends on being a part of a well-regulated militia. The precedent was that the government, the monarchy and its agents, would be that which unreasonably searched and seized things from the citizens. The only reason the Founders wouldn’t tack on “by any agency public or private” to the Fourth Amendment is that it was incomprehensible that there would be such a thing as a global corporate economy that could exercise such power*.
In other words, how can something done by a government be an affront to our rights to privacy, but the same thing done by a corporation is not?
* Kind of like how they could never have imagined the need to recognize the right to sow seeds and harvest personal crops… a bunch of hemp farmers could never have predicted the crop that was of “first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country” could get them serious prison time.