Is Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients An Unconstitutional Violation Of Privacy?

urine-tests-welfare

During today’s hearing over HB1385 to require drug testing for welfare recipients, the state’s welfare bureaucrats claimed that requiring such testing might be an unconstitutional violation of the 4th amendment:

States enacting such legislation have been “susceptible to constitutional challenges,” said Carol Cartledge, public assistance director for the state Department of Human Services.

“Drug testing as a condition of receipt of economic assistance is generally considered a search under the Fourth Amendment,” said Cartledge, who urged lawmakers to delay any action on the bill “until the current Fourth Amendment challenges are resolved.”

I’m tempted to argue that this is just something welfare bureaucrats are saying to protect their jobs, since drug testing might result in fewer welfare recipients and less need for social workers, but maybe it’s worth exploring this issue.

In thinking of this issue, my mind turns to the issues with the TSA frisking and scanning air travelers before they board airplanes. That sort of search has been upheld by the courts as a reasonable search under the 4th amendment, so why wouldn’t drug testing for welfare recipients?

The case for drug testing welfare recipients is actually even stronger. I’m not sure that frisking/scanning every single airline traveler really is a reasonable search under the 4th amendment, seeing as how the government is interjecting mandatory searches between private air travelers using private airlines, but certainly a drug test as a barrier to public welfare benefits can be considered reasonable?

I want to make it clear that I’m not endorsing what the TSA does. I don’t think the crotch-groping and nudie-scans are a “reasonable search” under the 4th amendment. But how is drug testing for welfare recipients unreasonable?

It would be strange, indeed, for searches of air travelers asking nothing of the government to be legal under the 4th amendment, but not drug testing for those who want benefits from the taxpayers.

Here’s my interview with bill sponsor Rep. Dennis Johnson:

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    The welfare bureaucrats don’t want anyone to interfere with their empire building.

    In North Dakota if you don’t have a job it must be because you don’t want to work. So why do we have people sitting at home collecting a check?

    • Game

      Whisler,

      How many people who have been “sitting at home collecting a check” who are also drug users are you going to hire?

      • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

        I hope they take that as an incentive to clean up.

  • nimrod

    Drug testing is constitutional because it can be avoided by refusing welfare.

    • sbark

      Makes sense to the rest of us living in the public working sector……now persude the Liberals.

      • SusanBeehler

        I totally agree with requiring drug testing! I am always surprised when the social workers come out against this.

  • Somebodysomewhere

    Drug testing sounds reasonable – even tho it is technically a search. Welfare recipients should be given the choice of consenting to the test. If they don’t consent, no welfare – this way, the ball is in their court. Easy fix!

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      There’s no question it’s a search, but the question is whether or not it’s a reasonable search.

      I’m having a hard time finding drug testing as a prerequisite for public benefits as being all that unreasonable.

      • slackwarerobert

        But it isn’t being used to incarcerate you, only for information purposes. They steal DNA if you are arrested without your consent.

  • Captjohn

    To get a CDL or a Coast Gaurd license you have to submit to a drug test. You also have to pass a physical. Another words to get a privilege or a right to operate a commercial vehicle or vessel you have to submit to what you are calling a search. If you have an accident you may have to submit to a drug test or lose your certificate.
    Your ordinary drivers License is a privilege granted by the government. If you are stopped and determined by an officer of the law to be impaired they can require you to take a alcohol test or blood test. if you refuse they can confiscate your license revoking your privilege. That has all ready been tested in the courts.
    Welfare recipients are recieving something from the government. As such they are supposed to prove need. I hope we are still means testing. Thus we are supposed to search their financial records.
    Why do we have to submit to drug tests to make a living and a welfare recipient wouldn’t have to when they are taking goverment money?

  • Lianne

    As others have stated here, if individuals don’t want to be tested, they can chose not to apply for or receive welfare, therefore, there can be no violation of privacy. Government and private sector jobs require drug testing. The drug test is only required when someone applies for a job. If this bill passed, the test would only be required for those who apply for welfare.
    However, when I listened to the interview, my concern arose when friends or families would be given the money for children if the parent tested positive. I think we all know how that would turn out. That is not a viable solution. More work needs to be done with the bill.
    I support weeding out drug/alcohol abuse for those on welfare.

    • whowon

      if the parents test positive for drugs do you really think they would get any money for food? Drug users have a strange priority..more drugs.

      • Lianne

        That is what I was implying. The money would be pass through the hands of the third party to the parent.

        • slackwarerobert

          And that third party would be liable for child endangerment if they don’t feed the child. Hmm give druggie the money and go to jail, or feed the starving kids. This one is very hard what to do what to do.

          • Lianne

            If everyone followed the law, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. If everyone had a sense of right and wrong, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. If parents didn’t lend their kids out to aunties and grandma’s so they could share in the welfare money, i would agree with you 100%. But, define ‘feed starving kids’. And why do they need money for food for kids when they get two free meals a day in school?

            It always comes back to standards and principles. The government makes moving those standards lower and lower with each new program. As much as I do not want welfare parents on illegal drugs, I believe this bill will only increase the cost of welfare, add to the government pay-roll, and will do little to stop illegal drugs.
            Besides that, I believe our state has bigger fish to fry.

    • Matthew Hawkins

      Just to correct everybody here, most government jobs don’t require drug testing. The ones that do are those with access to heavy machinery or weapons, or that require a security clearance. Other than that government testing is unreasonable.

      • Lianne

        You are right, just as ALL government jobs do not require test, nor do ALL private sector jobs. But, more and more employers are requiring testing. And yes, it is reasonable to want drug free employees.

        • Matthew Hawkins

          I apologize for not being clear. For most government jobs drug testing is prohibited, while it is never prohibited for a private sector job.

          Using the fact that the military or operators of heavy machinery are required by the government to have drug tests is a bad argument.

  • Game

    I don’t know how I feel on this bill.

    However, I don’t think the number of people on welfare who would be kicked off would cost any “welfare bureaucrats” thier job.

    In fact, one of the reason’s I am having a hard time supporting it is I think it will end up costing more than it saves in the end, by creating another layer of bureaucraracy. Somebody will have to make sure the tests are taken, will have to monitor the appeals process, will have to deal with assigning benifts for the children who’s parents get kicked off, and so much more.

    • slackwarerobert

      What appeal? You pay top get retested up front you think they are in error. 60 hours after your joint and you will pass the test.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      In fact, one of the reason’s I am having a hard time supporting it is I think it will end up costing more than it saves in the end, by creating another layer of bureaucraracy.

      The thing is, I don’t think the supporters of the are looking at it as a cost saving measure. The goal isn’t to save money by kicking a bunch of druggies off of benefits. The goal is to give substance abusers a big incentive to get off the drugs so they can get help and, hopefully, get back on their feet.

  • whowon

    It is very interesting for sure. I would think the drug testing is not has hard as Shari Doe, director of Burleigh County Social Services is indicting. Anyone needing aid wouldn’t have a problem submitting to the test. Social services officials were critical of the measure, saying it unfairly targets the poor. Seriously? If they are drug users, that is where the money is going, the children are not fed. It doesn’t have to be so complicated, pass the test you owe nothing. Don’t pass the test? Yes you owe the money (which we will never see) but you will not be able to apply again. Unfairly targets poor? Not at all, it addresses one of many problems with our insane system to “help” people.

  • WOOF

    Everyone receives some kind of government benefit.
    Shall the town drug test those whose snowy streets

    are plowed?
    Does your child go to public school ?
    The school board needs to be sure you’re not using.
    Have a FHA/VA/mortgages? Fill the cup.

    • whowon

      tax payers funded, guess you don’t pay any? You must be one of the fools who thinks government has it’s own money.

    • Roy_Bean

      I am subject to random drug tests to keep my job and pay the taxes that provide the benefits that they don’t want to get tested to receive. Do you want to make the case that I shouldn’t be tested?

      • WOOF

        You don’t have to work for a company that doesn’t trust you. Is everyone in the company tested ?

        • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

          Government regulations require you to get tested in many industries.

        • camsaure

          And you don’t have to collect welfare if you don’t want to be tested.

    • opinion8ed

      No private school. I pay twice.
      Plowed roads come from state taxes not the government
      I have a traditional mortgage with 20% down at Gate city not fannie

      • WOOF

        For the moment your skating, for the moment.

      • borborygmi

        since when is the state not the government.. THe roads you are driving on are most likely federally funded. There are lots of people receiving benefits from the gov’t just not directly. I think Game has it right that there won’t be as many as people think.

        • slackwarerobert

          And when I fill up my gas tank I PAY for those roads.

          • borborygmi

            only in part.

          • http://pocketjacksblog.blogspot.com Jay W.

            Well, of course he pays for them in part. It’d be pretty silly to expect him to pay for the roads all by himself.

      • slackwarerobert

        I bought my own plow, and for a small annual fee plow the whole neighborhood. And down to the pavement, I don’t run by at 60mph with the blade up 6 inches so it doesn’t catch on something.
        Sadly I am forced to home school, but have no ill will for private ones. Glad to report my 10 year old got an A+ in barrel rifling. He will never worry about gun grabbers.
        No gooberment home loan for me either.

    • two_amber_lamps

      Holy $%# you’re stupid.

    • retirenowconrad

      If I start doing drugs can I be exempted from paying taxes?

      • WOOF

        By refusing to pay taxes you can be placed on the tax resistors cell block It can be arranged for you to be placed in gov’t housing, clothed and employed with pay, not enough to have a tax liability.. They have lively libertarian discussions. Earlier tax liabilities will still be enforce.

        • nac

          “By refusing to pay taxes…”

          t seems you just described your fellow dem/lib/commie, willie bonilla, AKA hannitized. You remember him, the guy with the tax lien.

        • slackwarferobert

          Actually you will get a job in obamas admin. That is his #1 requirement, you are honest and pay your taxes he will crucify you.

  • borborygmi

    You take gov’t money you accept the attatched strings.

    • two_amber_lamps

      Holy $#%#%!!?? Do I agree with bobo on something??

      Madness…..

      • borborygmi

        look up pigs flying. Of course those strings are attached at all levels of gov’t. If you take state money state strings. Considering how gov’t money(yes I know that is our money}but we elected them to oversee our money that is a lot of strings (some of it silly string)

        • two_amber_lamps

          Perhaps that’s where our opinions diverge? I think the “strings” attached to the acceptance of government support is a good incentive for the individual to GET OFF the dole. Though what might motivate me (if I were to imagine myself in that situation) may well be of no importance for those who habitually depend on said stipend. Further, I can certainly see why those who habitually abuse the system want no part of any additional regulation/strings attached. That is… I understand why they want no part of additional strings… I certainly don’t sympathize with it.

  • opinion8ed

    An employee hired To push carts from the parking lot to the store must submit to a drug test. Welfare is not a right. If you do not want to collect welfare then do no allow yourself to be drug tested

  • WOOF

    The originalist, strict interpertation of the plain text gets flushed

    when there is a chance to F with the poor.
    Amendment IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
    effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
    violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
    supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
    to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    • Lianne

      They are dragged from their home for arbitrary testing. they are bringing themselves to an office to apply for welfare. If they don’t want to be tested, they don’t have to apply for welfare. If they want welfare, they should have no reason to resist drug testing——–unless……

      • WOOF

        Wanna drive a car, you’ll feel a little pinch,

        • two_amber_lamps

          If you wanna collect a gubmint welfare check… you’ll feel a little pinch. As it should be.

          DERP!

    • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

      Tell that to the city hall slackers in Fargo who do house-to-house searches for sump pumps.

      • borborygmi

        You got caught with your sump pump pumping illegally ……again poor baby

        • slackwarerobert

          depends on your definition of “pump” is. Mine sort of squirts water so is not illegal.

          • borborygmi

            I use mine to help water the lawn or garden

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    My right to privacy is violated every April 15.

  • tony_o2

    If a welfare recipient has a history of drug use, they should be tested. If a recipient appears to be under the influence, they should be tested. If there is reasonable suspicion that they are on drugs, they should submit to a search before receiving benefits.

  • sbark

    It appears to me, with 53% voting for Obama again—-we need drug testing to vote, they have to be on drugs to repeat what they did to this country in 2008 again.

  • retirenowconrad

    The fourth ammendment protects us from being unreasonably searched and then arrested if something is found.

    Is anyone suggesting arresting welfare recipients if they fail the drug test?

    This is common sense legislation, too bad “our” bureaucrats in Bismarck lack it.

    • slackwarerobert

      Heck no, we want them off our backs not just make it worse and educate them as well as feed them. Although deportation of a few couldn’t hurt when you run across them.

    • Matthew Hawkins

      Not true. Even if not arrested you can sue for the violation of civil rights.

  • slackwarerobert

    Make it a win win for everyone. Testing you pay, when you pass you get twice the amount back. You will make up for the small loss by the ones who fail and get kicked off, and those that just drop off because they know they will fail. Then you will hope they test you because you will get a bigger check when your clean drug free body passes.

    Shouldn’t we also test the little kiddies? If the money is for them, and they are high…..

  • The Sheriff

    Drug testing should be allow on welfare recipients. It’s a no brainer.

  • J welk

    am i wrong or are all goverment employees required to take a drug test. If you recieve welfare you are a goverment employee and should be drug tested

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