Judges should get drug tests for presuming all are guilty

October 18, 1998|By GREGORY KANE

THE NINE nerveless Nellies currently ensconced on our Supreme Court have just committed the wimp-out act of the year. Two weeks ago, the pusillanimous justices refused to review a case out of Indiana, where overzealous school officials imposed mandatory drug testing as a condition for participating in extracurricular activities.

Picture it now. Chess club members puffing on a joint while they decide to use a King's Gambit or a Sicilian Defense opening. Math club members smoking crack between discussions on the finer points of number theory.

These things must have happened in Rushville, Ind. It was there that school officials instituted the mandatory drug testing ruling for extracurricular activities. Four of the students and their parents protested and filed suit. They must have had the curious idea that a thing called presumption of innocence still existed in America and that the drug-testing program flew in the face of it.

Well, America is changing. That presumption-of- innocence thing is becoming old hat, especially in light of the increasingly laughable "drug war." In the drug war, everyone's presumed guilty.

It started with random drug testing of servicemen, which was reasonable enough. Soon, welfare recipients were added in some states, and there's a certain logic to that. Taxpayers have a right to be assured their tax dollars are not being used to subsidize addiction. But isn't it going too far to demand that a high school student who wants to be in the chess or math club has to pass a drug test?

Already, some private companies are requiring potential employees to take drug tests as a condition of being hired. Private employers probably figure they are saving themselves big headaches down the road, but it's another example of the notion of presumption of innocence being further eroded. In the drug war, everyone's presumed guilty. You have to prove your innocence.

If that's the way this thing is going to go, fine. But let's expand the pool of those presumed guilty. Let's expand the list of those who should have mandatory drug tests. Let's not just pick on high school students, welfare recipients and lowly enlisted men in our armed services. Let's demand drug testing for society's honchos. We can start with the Nine Ninnies on the high court -- and don't even bother to pardon the pun.

After all, we don't want these veritable juggernauts of jurisprudence to make a decision while under the influence of the Good Lord only knows what. Why should we presume their innocence? The very nature of their job means they are in a position to adversely affect society much more than a high school student or welfare recipient. We should be assured they're drug-free.

Why not the president? President Clinton would be the perfect chief executive to initiate such a program. His judgment in the Monica Lewinsky affair was so stupid that we could reasonably assume he did it under the influence of something. So, let's give him one of those urine flasks and see what's up.

Ditto for all those elected officials in the line of succession. Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senate President Pro Tem Strom Thurmond and others in line for succession can queue up right behind Clinton and do their duty.

Next in line would be every member of Congress. Enlisted men in our armed services, who've probably long wondered if members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are subjected to the random drug tests they are, would probably be delighted to know the same rules applied to the top brass.

Federal and state judges should be added to the list, as well as lawyers. Doctors should face mandatory drug testing or lose their licenses to practice. Under the presumption-of-guilt mania now sweeping the country, states could require all licensed drivers to take mandatory drug tests. All too many motorists are ripping and racing along our highways and streets as if they're under the influence of something anyway.

Add school board members, superintendents, principals and teachers to the list. This is the logical extension of the Rushville mandatory drug-testing edict. Officials there couldn't have overlooked it. If you don't trust students, why trust those entrusted to educate them?

There's one final group that should be subjected to mandatory drug testing: newspaper columnists. That should allay the fears of those readers who may be wondering if this one was written under the influence of something.

Pub Date: 10/18/98

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