On the topic of drug-testing: We’ve been here before

So we are back to talking about mandatory drug tests for those who receive government assistance. State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, is one of those backing the measure.

A federal judge has blocked a similar measure in Florida on constitutional grounds. Fourth Amendment protection against search and seizure is alleged. But we are entering an election year, so the odds favor passage here in Georgia.

In reaction, state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, on Friday dropped a measure to require that all members of the Legislature submit urine or blood samples so that they, too, can be screened for mind-altering substances.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been here before. A well-informed reader reminded us of a particular April 15, 1997 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. From the AJC archives:

A state law that requires candidates to pass a drug test before seeking elected office may have helped Georgia bolster its image of being tough on drugs , but the statute violates the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Even the lone dissenter, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, called the 1990 law “misguided” and “even silly.” Still, Rehnquist argued that “this is the sort of policy judgment that surely must be left to legislatures” and not to the courts.

The 8-1 decision struck down the law as a violation of the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches. The ruling ends any possibility that other states might follow Georgia’s lead in requiring a drug test within a few weeks after a candidate qualifies to run for an office.

“Georgia asserts no evidence of a drug problem among the state’s elected officials, ” and those officials typically do not perform safety- sensitive jobs, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court.

“The need revealed, in short, is symbolic, ” Ginsburg said. “However well meant, the candidate drug test Georgia has devised diminishes personal privacy for a symbol’s sake.”

The case was argued by libertarian and Zebulon lawyer Walker Chandler, a lone practitioner who has run unsuccessfully for probate judge in Pike County and for lieutenant governor.

Walker drove to Washington, with his two sons to keep him company, to argue before the high court after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him. The court, based in Atlanta, said in a 2-1 decision a year earlier, “the nature of high public office in itself demands the highest levels of honesty, clear-sightedness and clear thinking.”

As a matter of fact, I do recall that state Rep. Billy McKinney – the father of Cynthia — stood in front of the House chamber and, in a fiery speech, expressed his outrage at being forced to “pee into a cup.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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48 comments Add your comment

Hide-n-seek

December 3rd, 2011
11:05 am

First!
“Officials typically do not perform safety-sensitive jobs” but they sure pass laws that affect all of us. Do I want them to be of sound mind when they do so? Heck yeah!

findog

December 3rd, 2011
11:20 am

The Supremes should revisit as there is new evidence:
Georgia asserts no evidence of a drug problem among the state’s elected officials; how else do we explain some of their legislation like the imbedded microchip bill that was only a misdemeanor?
The legislative branch inaction on transportation is proof that, “those officials typically do not perform safety-sensitive jobs,” yet there inaction has reduced the safety of the driving public.
Republicans are always pointing to how the private sector is the answer, most firms now expect an applicant to pee in a cup to get the job; so members of the house, senate, executive, and judicial branches need to line up to be tested.

cartoon

December 3rd, 2011
11:38 am

If they drug tested this comment board, it would fall somewhere between catatonic and drooling. and those are just the ones that can read.

Shine

December 3rd, 2011
11:43 am

And here again is a case of one class being treated than a different class. whatever happened to the 14th ammendment?

At any rate, why is just welfare recipients on a bill to pee in a cup ? why not if you want that one ga grant all executives etc pees in a cup? farm subsidy? pee in cup. tax abatement? pee in cup. etc etc etc

it seems the Goofy Ole Party is running full steam on the mentality of hypocricy and the mindset of kooks.

Shine

December 3rd, 2011
11:46 am

at least need to pass a breathalizer before any votes are taken in the gold dome. would look good on tv and speak volumes about how serious the gop kooks are when its their dignity on the line.

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 3rd, 2011
12:07 pm

Guess who is going to pay for the drug tests–the people with no money? Or the state? This will cost millions of dollars more than the systems costs now. That, of course, is aside from the ethical arguments. What about a single parent who is a drug addict? The kids will go hungry along with the addict, which can lead to even more horrible things (parents prostituting their children for money, for example).

Centrist

December 3rd, 2011
12:27 pm

Florida’s law where BENEFITS are like job salaries are earned which often require being drug free is likely to go to the Supreme Court as the liberal federal judge who blocked it is being appealed.

Yes, we know that Mr. Jim Galloway and the rest of the liberal Democrats who work at the AJC are opposed. As the headline in this blog states: “We’ve been here before”.

findog

December 3rd, 2011
12:33 pm

Shine, I love it. Just like ignition locks for multiple DUI defendants; if it detects alcohol it won’t start. If the legislature is drunk he can’t vote; if not enough are sober there is no quorum and they don’t get their per diem. Imagine the lobbyist trying to keep the members on the straight and narrow while their mental capabilities are not diminished and still voting for the special interests with morally questionable outcomes ensured they will be getting campaign donations to demonize your opponents…

Alabama Communist

December 3rd, 2011
1:08 pm

More Breaking News About Giving Herman Cain A Viagra and Pee Test…A Drug Dealer planted deep within the Republican Party said today…” That stupid 1% North Fulton County Republican needs to take a required IQ Test to see if he is mentally stable enough to walk and talk in his community without a Brain..”

Aquagirl

December 3rd, 2011
1:10 pm

they sure pass laws that affect all of us. Do I want them to be of sound mind when they do so?

We’re talking about drug tests, not miracles.

AtticusFinch

December 3rd, 2011
1:10 pm

Shine & findog: I think you have it backwards. I’m afraid the votes we’ve seen ARE while they’re sober. It couldn’t be any worse if we wouldn’t let them vote until they were tipsy.

And Shine, everyone on Medicare and SS also need to pee in a cup too. Oh yeah, Delta Airlines execs for the big fuel tax break they got. And Kia execs…

I’m investing in cup futures. The market looks bright!

General Andy Jackson

December 3rd, 2011
1:16 pm

“A federal judge has blocked a similar measure in Florida on constitutional grounds. Fourth Amendment protection against search and seizure is alleged.”

Alleged? ALLEGED?

Allegation(def.): A statement by a party in a pleading describing what that party’s position is and what that party intends to prove.

A judge isn’t a party to an action. A judicial opinion is not a pleading. And if at this late date we have to “prove” that the Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, we’re doomed.

Attack Dog

December 3rd, 2011
1:19 pm

How many court cases related to unusual laws are not appealed? Like many neo-con bills, they make a big splash but have little merit. The testing has found that those applying for benefits have less drug problems than the general public. More proof, neo-cons pushed for voter IDs but asked for the same documentation that was used at the voting booth.

cartoon

December 3rd, 2011
1:19 pm

Aquagirl wears a cup. She’s one of those chix with dixie cups.

bwa

findog

December 3rd, 2011
1:22 pm

Atticus, we could put breathalyzers on those Diebold voting machines. They used to keep the liquor stores closed until one hour after the polls closed; since the change drunken Georgians have voted in a steadier majority for republicans.

Aquagirl

December 3rd, 2011
1:25 pm

She’s one of those chix with dixie cups.

That sounds even more uncomfortable than clamshells.

clem

December 3rd, 2011
1:26 pm

i would place money on cain staying in….

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 3rd, 2011
1:29 pm

Republicans: the party for less intrusion and smaller government, unless of course we’re talking about poor people, women, gays, and pretty much everyone else who isn’t a male WASP.

I don’t think there is a more paranoid group of people on earth.

Independent voter

December 3rd, 2011
1:33 pm

Georgia is a backward state these republican need to be recall. Why lawmaker dont take drug test.
If I was unemployed wouldnt volunteer I would sue Georgia for taken my benefit from me because I didnt volunteer. The government trying to control people life and shouldnt be that way.

clem

December 3rd, 2011
1:52 pm

guess i better hedge my bet on the lsu-uga game now, since herman swallowed his ego

liberalefty

December 3rd, 2011
2:06 pm

more government intrusion from these supposedly small government racist republicans!

findog

December 3rd, 2011
2:14 pm

Why does a candidate suspend a campaign? Do they think the bad news will change?

liberalefty

December 3rd, 2011
2:16 pm

HERMANS “suspending” his campaign so suckers can still donate money to him. hes just a 2 bit huckster thats been unclothed as a slimy womanizing pimp

Aquagirl

December 3rd, 2011
2:22 pm

guess i better hedge my bet on the lsu-uga game now

Maybe he found a receipt on his wife’s dresser for golf clubs.

clem

December 3rd, 2011
2:34 pm

at least they are celebrating in Uzbeki-bek­i-beki-bek­i-stani-st­an

cc

December 3rd, 2011
2:39 pm

This is stupid!

You can not get a basic job without a drug screen….. therefor, though in office and those seeking jobs should be the cleanest of all of us.

Maybe it should be made random where if you are holding an elect chair or receiving government fund… you give consent for screening.

But lets face it, some of the rules and laws and MISHANDLING of money could be readily explained if they couldn’t pass the test….

As a taxpayer, I do not want to foot the bill for those who can not pass a drug screen yet want government money.

Toby

December 3rd, 2011
3:01 pm

The proposal is a waste. The fact that we can use one of the most dangerous drug on Earth, alcohol, or tobacco or pain killers with a prescription, or dextromethorphan, legally, but a health product like cannabis is not allowed is tyrannical. If a public employee doesn’t perform well enough, then that should merit action, but having some drug in their body is arbitrary… the drug testing idea is stupid & unethical.

Sally Davis

December 3rd, 2011
3:02 pm

Have you ever been to a social gathering with politicians? They are the drunkest and obnoxious characters at the affair. The free booze and food is enjoyed in great quantities. Give me a break. More decisions are influenced at these affairs and clear headedness? Give me a breeak! Look at the voting records after such affairs.

liberalefty

December 3rd, 2011
3:02 pm

@ cc

whats next? will they have to go to church to receive government money. and if they miss a day then money will be deducted?

liberalefty

December 3rd, 2011
3:07 pm

this is just a way for the morally “superior” conservatives to humiliate people they deem morally inferior to them

catlady

December 3rd, 2011
3:08 pm

Since we ALL get government assistance, I am all for it. Those who fail, who have public jobs, are fired (including legislators) and lose their government benefits (see below). Those who are not government workers, if they fail, lose only their benefits (SS, Medicare, tax exemptions, student loan deferrals, police and fire protection, use of roads, landfills, libraries, etc). Non-discriminatory, will save us lots of money, and might get folks off drugs, and it applies to every person living in the United States! Because, as we all know, we all benefit by living here!

liberalefty

December 3rd, 2011
3:09 pm

and what if the mother of the family fails a drug test, then what? will the state take her kids from her? this will cost more money than the little check shes receiving

catlady

December 3rd, 2011
3:10 pm

BTW, on Herman, he no longer gets taxpayer-funded SS protection, right?

Teddy Roosevelt

December 3rd, 2011
4:06 pm

Shine I would be happy if we got rid of farm subsidies altogether, then we wouldn’t have to worry about that problem. I also don’t think we should/ actually do give just grants to executives.

Attack Dog

December 3rd, 2011
4:13 pm

Can someone explain how it is more difficult to commit Voter fraud with IDs than absentee?

Teddy Roosevelt

December 3rd, 2011
4:17 pm

Well then liberalefty, if that is the law then maybe she could you know, follow it and not lose her children.

nelsonh

December 3rd, 2011
5:24 pm

The NYC police made 600,000 “stop and frisk” looking for drugs[marijuana] . No reason for the searches just looking for pot. That is a terrible violation of the $th Amendment-freedoom of privacy. The only recourse is to legalize marijuana, it is no more dangerous to the health thann ciagarettes and does in fact, have medicinal qualities. The tax revenue that the leagal sale of marijuana would be enormous for the state and along with selling alcohol 7 days a week now, the prospect of horse racing, casinos and river boat gambling, Georgia would have an incredible prosperous state. Got to go for the gold. “opportunity knocks but once open the door and let it come in.

catlady

December 3rd, 2011
7:10 pm

liberalefty, I would say that if mom loses the welfare benefits due to drug use, she would have to “get a job” and feed her kids, or listen to them cry, or give them up. And yes, it might cost more in the short run, but in the long run, with the multigenerationalness of welfare (and drug use) it might be cost effective.

I see that someone is advocating having those getting jobless benefits work at public service jobs 20 or more hours per week. I would advocate first having those on welfare doing that. At least those getting unemployment have, at some point, worked. Many of those on welfare have a long history of non-working. I am aware that there is a time limit for receiving welfare, but I know of no one cut off. I suspect there are lots of “loopholes” just like there are for passing the CRCT.

td

December 3rd, 2011
8:51 pm

liberalefty

December 3rd, 2011
3:09 pm

DFCS and the Juvenile courts takes children away form drug addict parents everyday in this state.

Jeff

December 3rd, 2011
9:14 pm

Fine, you don’t want to hold people responsible before handing them MY money that I PAY in taxes? No problem. We just cut ALL social programs… every last one… no benefits to ANYBODY. Then let the rich, bleeding-heart liberals like Jim Galloway, Cynthia McKinney, Al Gore, The Clintons, Howard Dean, Michael Moore, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Kerry, all the Kennedy decendants, etc., pay for all the welfare recipients to have money.

Irony: liberals and progressives believe in evolution and Darwin’s survival of the fittest, BUT their desperate, emotional platforms and policies are set up so that NOBODY ever fails and NOBODY ever gets weeded out. I say let survival of the fittest take place… either fight like hell to swim upstream or get swept away… your choice. But no more handouts for anybody… EVER.

There, is that better? Now having a simple drug test to make sure that welfare recipients and those on the government dole are sober and not crack addicts doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 3rd, 2011
9:29 pm

Teddy Roosevelt

December 3rd, 2011
4:17 pm

Well then liberalefty, if that is the law then maybe she could you know, follow it and not lose her children.

You’re a sociopath fyi

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 3rd, 2011
9:31 pm

catlady

December 3rd, 2011
7:10 pm

Many of those on welfare have a long history of non-working. I am aware that there is a time limit for receiving welfare, but I know of no one cut off. I suspect there are lots of “loopholes” just like there are for passing the CRCT.

Can you back any of that up?

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 3rd, 2011
9:32 pm

Jeff

December 3rd, 2011
9:14 pm

Fine, you don’t want to hold people responsible before handing them MY money that I PAY in taxes? No problem. We just cut ALL social programs… every last one… no benefits to ANYBODY. Then let the rich, bleeding-heart liberals like Jim Galloway, Cynthia McKinney, Al Gore, The Clintons, Howard Dean, Michael Moore, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Kerry, all the Kennedy decendants, etc., pay for all the welfare recipients to have money.

Irony: liberals and progressives believe in evolution and Darwin’s survival of the fittest, BUT their desperate, emotional platforms and policies are set up so that NOBODY ever fails and NOBODY ever gets weeded out. I say let survival of the fittest take place… either fight like hell to swim upstream or get swept away… your choice. But no more handouts for anybody… EVER.

There, is that better? Now having a simple drug test to make sure that welfare recipients and those on the government dole are sober and not crack addicts doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Don’t be pedantic

billy

December 3rd, 2011
9:40 pm

hey gooberway, seems you need a reader to remind you HOW TO DO YOUR JOB. would you have even written this article without help to remind you of the past court findings? probably not. way to be on top of it. duhhhh. and you get paid for this?

Big Hat

December 3rd, 2011
11:21 pm

You have to HAVE a mind before you can alter it; that would leave out 100% of the GA General Assembly and 99% of the GA electorate.

Happy Monday | Blog for Democracy

December 5th, 2011
2:30 am

[...] pulls a 1997 Supreme Court decision regarding mandatory drug testing of candidates from the archives. Meanwhile, Rep. Scott Holcomb was [...]

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December 5th, 2011
8:51 pm

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December 6th, 2011
5:36 am

I thing she should aware about there children activity and and also believed in judiciary of the country