Jewish World Review March 22, 2002 / 9 Nisan, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
Conservative hypocrisy on school drug testing?
Be very afraid of what was said during
Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court hearing on a case in
which three Tecumseh, Okla., students challenged a
mandatory drug testing program for high school
students participating in extracurricular activities.
Be afraid because statements made by some of the
justices suggest that they are prepared to make the
sort of results-oriented ruling -- based on ideology,
not case law -- that conservatives used to lambaste
when liberals made them.
Enter the war on drugs. Exit the U.S. Constitution.
Here's one example quoted in the New York
Times: Justice Antonin Scalia asked ACLU attorney
Graham Boyd, who opposed the testing program,
"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?"
Yes, that's right, justice. In America, there's this little
thing called probable cause. Right now, teachers
can ask for drug tests when they suspect a student
of drug use, but for the moment, the law has not
allowed schools to test all students for no cause.
Be afraid because precedent doesn't matter. In
1995, the Big Bench ruled that it was legal for an
Oregon school to require athletes to submit to urine
tests because the school had a big drug problem.
The reasoning: Athletes were the main offenders,
football players were role models and there were
safety issues with football players in heavy gear
charging other players while high on drugs.
That was a narrow ruling. Now, some justices want
to make members of Future Farmers of America
and the band tuba player into role models. And they
don't care if a school district doesn't have much of a
drug problem. (Of 505 Tecumseh students tested,
three tested positive.)
Worse, as the Washington Times reported, Deputy
Solicitor General Paul D. Clement suggested that
public schools could test entire student bodies.
Forget the Fourth Amendment protections against
Be afraid because most justices apparently support
drug testing for students who are less likely to be
drug users than, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
said, "students who don't do anything after school."
Students who refuse to take the test or flunk it twice
would be banned from interscholastic clubs.
Be afraid because the Bush administration and some
justices want the government to be Big Father, and
pre-empt parental choice. Parents can give their
kids drug tests if they suspect their kids are using
There are parents who have argued that they want
the school to test their kids. They shouldn't expect
schools to do their dirty work for them. And they
should want to keep the government out of the
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy suggested that he was
helping parents when he gave an analogy of two
schools, one with drug testing and one without. He
then told the ACLU's Boyd that no parents would
send their children to "the druggie school" -- "except
perhaps your client."
I've received letters from readers who support
20-year sentences for low- level, first-time
nonviolent drug offenders because they think those
sentences will protect their kids. It doesn't occur to
these folks that their kids could be drug offenders.
According to the Bush administration's own brief,
54 percent of high school seniors have used illegal
Be afraid because when schools give students a
choice between clubs or drugs, marginal kids will
choose drugs. "It's those kids who need those
activities the most (who) are going to be the easiest
to deter," said Daniel Abrahamson of the Drug
Policy Alliance, who wrote a brief against the
Tecumseh School Board for the American
Academy of Pediatrics.
The brief noted, "a strong record of extracurricular
involvement is all but essential to securing admission
to a competitive undergraduate college."
Because the justices weren't focusing overly on
precedent, let me pose a moral question: Would the
justices support a policy labeled: Smoke a joint in
high school, work at McDonald's for the rest of
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
03/20/02: And now, about Russell Yates . . .
03/18/02: Bush isn't worried about alienating loyalist voters
03/13/02: No exit strategy
03/11/02: Simon hits the big time
03/06/02: He got away
03/01/02: Mary, Luke, Paul, John and Noah
02/25/02: These are good days for veep
02/21/02: Dirty bill for a dirty mess
02/19/02: Score one for Greta
02/15/02: Dose of justice needed here
02/08/02: Sunshine all around
02/04/02: Does citizenship matter?
02/01/02: End the coverup
01/30/02: Try this for "troubling"
01/25/02: Camp X-ray or Club Med?
01/23/02: Let's stop the deluge of porn e-mail
01/21/02: No 'Little Boy Lost'
01/16/02: Son of Supercar
01/12/02: Beware the European view of the death penalty
01/09/02: Other people's children
01/07/02: It doesn't fly
01/03/02: Going from the Atlantic City Boardwalk to Berkeley
12/31/01: In America, punishment should fit the crime
12/28/01: What I'd like to see in 2002
12/24/01: Don't heckle ink monopolists
12/21/01: Mumia finds safety in numbers
12/19/01 The self-help PBS shopping network
12/17/01 Caught on tape
12/14/01 Know when to hold 'em
12/10/01 Old friends
12/06/01 I read the news today, oh boy
12/03/01 It's not cricket
11/28/01 Admissions and omissions
11/26/01 Guns and abayas
11/21/01 Depraved minds think alike
11/19/01 Guilty, a la carte
11/14/01 Interpreting the entrails of Election 2000
11/12/01 Life and liberty
11/09/01 Safety is as safety does
11/07/01 More hot air on global warming
11/05/01 Bumped Pakistani's molehill
11/01/01 Freedom snuffed out
10/29/01 Give war a chance
10/26/01 Airline bill needs liftoff
10/22/01 The Riordan Principle
10/19/01 Before America gets tired of the war on terrorism
10/17/01 Patriot games
10/15/01 I was a 'McCainiac,' and I have seen the light
10/12/01 University of Censorship's fall semester
10/11/01 Poor little rich boy, Osama
10/07/01 Don't feed Israel to the beast
10/05/01: bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster
10/04/01: Where no man has gone before
09/26/01: Who's bloodthirsty?
09/26/01: What's to understand?
09/20/01: Barbara Lee's line in the sand
09/14/01: You gotta love this country
09/13/01: ENTER TERROR
09/11/01: You can't clone ethics
09/06/01: NOW's goal: equal rights for women without equal responsibility
08/30/01: What's love got to do with it?
08/24/01: A clean, well-lighted place for junkies
08/20/01: Bush should stand up for justice
08/08/01: Don't give Peace (Dept). a chance
08/03/01: Lose a kid, pass a law
08/01/01: Welcome to France, killers
07/30/01: Why it's easy being green (in Europe)
07/26/01: If disabled means expendable
07/23/01: Condit should not resign
07/18/01: Feinstein should learn her limit
07/16/01: A drought of common sense
07/13/01: The catalog has no clothes
07/05/01: It's Bush against the planet
07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
06/27/01: O, fearful new world
06/25/01: End HMO horrors
06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
06/11/01: Gumby strikes back
06/08/01: Los Angeles' last white mayor?
06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
06/04/01: Draw a line in the sand
05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
05/29/01: Operation: Beat up on civil rights
05/24/01: Of puppies, kittens and huge credit-card debts
05/22/01: Bush needs an energy tinkerbell
05/18/01: Divided we stand, united they fall
05/16/01: Big Bench backs might over right
05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
03/26/01: Where California and Mexico meet
03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders
12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?
© 2000, Creators Syndicate