Drug Testing In House Could Stir Lawsuits

Lawmakers who want their staff members and other Capitol Hill workers randomly tested for drugs could face a flurry of lawsuits because of prior court decisions affecting drug testing in the executive branch, the Hill reports.

“If there were a random drug testing program that included me, I would consider a lawsuit,” Robert Raben, minority counsel to two House Judiciary subcommittees, told the newspaper. In interviews, several House aides who work on policy matters privately echoed him, though most declined to speak on the record.

Under a House rule adopted recently, Speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican of Georgia, is creating a program for drug testing that resembles that used by the executive branch. It could be months before the House finally adopts such a plan, but already the Senate Rules Committee is reviewing how, and whether, it can implement similar practices. In the House, where the possibility of implementing a drug testing program seems strongest, only about one-tenth of the total 10,000 employees could be tested without a clear legal challenge, the Hill said. These include 82 employees of the Sergeant at Arms Office; 20 aides to the Select Intelligence Committee; and 1,100 members of the Capitol Police force, half of whom are technically employed by the Senate.

“I think a random drug testing program for Hill employees is unconstitutional. I think the courts would say so and I think the ACLU would be eager to challenge it,” said Arthur Spitzer, Legal Director of the ACLU affiliate in Washington.

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Posted by A. Shapiro
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