Judge Halts Mandatory Drug Testing at Missouri College

A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction to stop the drug testing of all first-year students at Linn State Technical College in Missouri after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to halt the program, CBS News reports. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of six unnamed Linn State students who are being represented by the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, also asks for a refund of $50 the school charges to run the test.

Linn State implemented the program this fall, saying it was necessary to ensure student safety at a school where the coursework includes aircraft maintenance, heavy engine repair, nuclear technology and other dangerous tasks. The two-year college’s drug testing policy may be the most far-reaching in the country.

The ACLU attorney Tony Rothert says that the new program, which tests for 11 drugs including cocaine and marijuana, violates the students’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search-and-seizure. Students who fail the test must pass a follow-up test forty-five days later. In addition, they are also required to either pass an anti-drug education class or a participate in a similar school-sanctioned activity.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Linn State explained that the policy aims to prepare students for the post-graduate job market since an increasing number of companies now require drug testing as a condition of employment. In its lawsuit, ACLU vehemently disagrees:

“It is unconstitutional to force students to submit to a drug test when there is zero indication of any kind of criminal activity,” Jason Williamson, a staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, said in a statement. “The college has demonstrated no legitimate need to drug test its students that outweighs their constitutionally protected privacy rights. This is an unprecedented policy, and nothing like it has ever been sanctioned by the courts.”

As part of the temporary injunction, federal judge Nanette K. Laughrey forbade Linn from conducting any further testing, and instructed the company analyzing the already-collected samples from releasing any results.

In a statement commenting on Judge Laughrey’s ruling, Linn State’s attorney Kent Brown said that the college felt that the ACLU rushed in filing the suit instead of approaching the school directly in order to create a more Constitutionally friendly drug-testing policy.