Pubdate: Sun, 07 Apr 2002
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2002, The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Marcell Brickey
Note: Marcell Brickey of Oxnard is a teacher of language arts at
Fremont Intermediate School in Oxnard.
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Unconstitutional: Students Are Being Asked To Shed Their Rights At The 
Schoolhouse Door.

Re: your March 20 article, "Court considers expanded school drug tests":

It's the druggies vs. the squares all over again. Only this time, in the 
view of the U.S. Supreme Court, the druggies include all high- school-age 
students in America.

The week before last, the justices strongly hinted that they would uphold 
mandatory drug testing of high school students as constitutional.

The Bill of Rights is not supposed to be a flexible document. In matters of 
public safety, the court has rightfully made rulings that have altered its 
intent. To trample on the Fourth Amendment in the name of the war on drugs 
is lunacy.

That our high court views the Bill of Rights as a fluid document is more 
unsettling than random surveys showing that drug use among high school 
seniors is on the rise for the umpteenth time.

The Supreme Court once stated that "students do not shed their 
constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door." Sadly enough in 2002, this 
is no longer so.

When we are willing to strip young people of their rights, we are not 
treating them as individual beings. Rather, we are dealing with them as 
extensions of their parents, unable to function in the world until they 
magically "get it" on their 18th birthday or their high school graduation 
or when they move out of the house.

Justice Anthony Kennedy derisively spoke of "the drug culture" and "druggie 
schools" during the hearings. That he saw no problem using these labels in 
a public Supreme Court hearing reveals an extreme misunderstanding of the 
realities of drug use in the United States. It could be reasonably argued 
that we are a drug-addicted society.

It is not a stretch to imagine Justice Kennedy lamenting the scourge of 
drugs in society over a martini in the court chambers. That the court would 
consider the threat of a school-administered drug test as a viable cog in 
the drug prevention wheel, fit for public schools, is laughable.

The biggest threat to these affronts on civil rights are those who 
understand the meaning of the Constitution. Many teen-agers today, if told 
they were going to be drug tested, would submit. They would fear getting in 
trouble or going against what authority tells them.

Most would simply figure that since they do not use drugs, they may as well 
just go ahead and do it. This is precisely how rights are lost. The ones 
refusing to be tested, disobedient, if you will, would show a greater 
understanding of these rights so many have died to preserve.

A teen-ager with his or her sense about him and a strong moral compass will 
make the right choice and not use illicit drugs. This is the reality for 
most high-school-age kids. They resist these temptations. For those who 
choose to use drugs, it is doubtful that drug testing would thwart these 

Drug use and abuse are far more complex than holding a drug test over 
someone's head. Besides, we have seen this whole drug-war mentality and its 
results. Another element to this is that people in favor of mandatory drug 
testing will tell you in the next breath that they are against big government.

That our Supreme Court would rule in favor of such dubious logic is 
symptomatic of a lack of reverence for the Bill of Rights. In the past few 
months, we have heard so much about freedom and liberty and how we need to 
fight for it and preserve the American way. Let us hope that our Supreme 
Court will see teen-agers as among those worthy of these liberties. Perhaps 
then the kids won't be so alienated.
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