The Asheville Citizen-Times reports on a ruling concerning privacy from the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which quotes a 1928 decision by Justice Brandeis that was cited in 1989 by Justice Scalia (“The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”):Â
The Graham County school board violated employees’ constitutional rights by deciding to subject them to random tests for drugs and alcohol, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. […]
Reversing an order by Superior Court Judge James U. Downs, the appeals court ruled the policy violates the North Carolina constitution’s prohibitions on unreasonable searches.
â€œConstitutional rights are not lightly cast aside,â€ Judge Linda Stephens wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.
Said Stephens quoting a 2008 decision: â€œWe should recall that the cherished liberties enjoyed in our brief historical moment have been inherited by this generation only because they have been nurtured and protected by earlier generations of Americans so driven in their pursuit of liberty that life itself was not too great a cost to purchase liberty for themselves and their posterity.â€ […]
Judges said the board didn’t show evidence of a drug problem among school employees that would justify changing the former policy, which mandated drug testing upon hiring and upon suspicion.
Over more than a decade, just one employee had been tested because of suspicion. And school officials acknowledged in testimony that no child had been harmed by educators thought to be under the influence.
Lawyers for the board, though, argued educators have safety-sensitive jobs akin to an airport maintenance mechanic whom the North Carolina courts ruled could be randomly tested.
Stephens, though, wrote that â€œthere is absolutely no evidence in the record which in any way equates the safety concerns inherent in the driving of a motor vehicle on the apron of an airport’s flight area with the safety concerns inherent in the job duties of any board employee.â€