In an age of zero tolerance in schools, the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing the merits of random drug testing for public school students. ‘Hey, Teacher, Leave Them Kids Alone’

In an age of "zero tolerance" in schools, where students can be expelled for the high crime of aspirin possession, it should come as no surprise that the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing the merits of random drug testing for public school students wishing to participate in after-school activities.

"If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?"

The state of "kids’ rights" has deteriorated beyond what even Pink Floyd could have hallucinated in the 80’s. The "dark sarcasm" in today’s classrooms points to a deepening distrust and misunderstanding of our nation’s youth, who know all too well that adults aren’t quite willing or able to embrace "tomorrow’s leaders."

Their pants are too low. Their hair is too long…must be drugs.

On March 19, 2002, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Board of Education v. Earls (No. 01-332). The case stems from a Tecumseh, Oklahoma public school policy, implemented in 1998, that requires all middle school and high school students taking part in extracurricular activities to agree to random drug testing throughout the school year.

All those degenerates seeking the seedy pursuits of chess club, chorus and cheerleading have to first prove they’re clean. Even the Future Homemakers of America and the math club have to pee in a cup upon request. And, of course, there are our precious athletes who someday might win the right to represent our country at the Olympics, and pee in a cup at a much higher level.

"You! Yes, you behind the bike shed. Stand still, laddie..."

It apparently hasn’t occurred to anyone that those students participating in after-school events are the very same kids we hold up as examples of what all kids should be doing to stay out of trouble. If they want to test, why not start with kids hanging out in front of the Circle K? Perhaps they’ve already written them off.

In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that schools may test their athletes for drugs, making an exception to the general rule that there has to be reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing before administering a test. The Court reasoned that student athletes who undress in crowded locker rooms already have a lower expectation of privacy. Athletes using drugs could also be a danger to themselves or others on the field, according to the Court.

A reasonable extension of that decision, according to Tecumseh officials, is to apply similar standards to students in other after-school activities. It’s wrong to single out athletes. After all, most, if not all, students take gym class where they must undress in a locker room.

Of course, by that logic, perhaps we should start drug testing regulars at all those trendy spas and health clubs downtown. People in spandex have a much lower expectation of privacy.

Justice Stephen Breyer, who voted in the 6-3 majority in the 1995 case, seems eager to support the Oklahoma school’s policy: "It’s hard for me to see if I came out one way (in 1995) I’d come out differently here."

The Bush Administration also appears to be supporting the Tecumseh school district, as is a laundry list of organizations such as the Drug-Free Schools Coalition. Deputy Solicitor General Paul Clement went so far as to say universal testing would be constitutional.

The Tecumseh plan doesn’t sit well with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor though. Noting that students involved in wholesome after-school activities were less likely than their peers to use drugs, O’Connor stated, "It’s just so odd…It’s counterintuitive, isn’t it?"

It is to Lindsey Earls. She’s the once-captain of the Tecumseh academic quiz team who sued over a 1998 drug test by the school, which she passed. Earls, a self-described "goodie two-shoes," now attends Dartmouth College. "The constitutional rights of a lot of students are at stake here," said Earls. Get ready America, she’s one of "tomorrow’s leaders."

The Court’s decision is expected by early summer. All indications are that this will be "just another brick in the wall."

March 21, 2002
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