ACLU Applauds Supreme Court Decision Striking Down Drug Tests for State Candidates

April 15, 1997 12:00 am

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Tuesday, April 15, 1997

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the Supreme Court’s decision striking down a Georgia law that required numerous candidates for state office to submit to a drug test as a condition of getting on the ballot.

“This is an extremely important victory,” said Steven R. Shapiro, national Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which submitted a friend-of-the-court brief. “It sends a strong message, especially from a court that is not normally sympathetic to Fourth Amendment claims. The drug testing program in this case was never anything more than political grandstanding. Today’s decision reaffirms the danger of allowing politicians to trade our personal privacy for political symbols.”

The Georgia drug-testing law was really “a solution in search of a problem,” said Gerry Weber, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia. Weber, who attended oral argument in the case last year, noted that the Justices were “clearly startled” by the lack of a factual record of any problem with drug use among Georgia’s public officials.

“The state explicitly said that ‘there is no such problem as we sit here today,’ and the Justices responded accordingly. We hope that this will settle any future attempts to violate people’s privacy in the name of battling drugs, in Georgia and elsewhere,” Weber added.

The case is Chandler v. Miller, 96-156.

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