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Mandatory White House Drug Testing Struck Down


September 1996

The Clinton Administration violated the Constitution when it mandated drug testing for all employees of the Old Executive Office Building ruled the U.S. District Court this summer (Arthur Stigile and Ellen Balis v. President Clinton and John Arthur, No. 96-01328, 1996WL421930, 11 IER Cases 1711, (July 24, 1996); Michael J. Sniffen, "U.S. to Appeal Decision on Drug Testing," Washington Post, August 14, 1996, p. A7).

The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal on August 13 and will request expedited review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, according to Justice Department spokesman Joe Krovisky.

On July 24, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey ruled that security and safety arguments did not justify administering random drug tests to all employees of the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. "While this court abhors the sale, use or distribution of drugs, it will not suspend the constitution[al]" right to avoid an unreasonable search, Richey said. To supersede that right, Richey said, the employee must be in a safety-related job or have access to classified information. He noted that many interns, reporters and photographers have the same access to the building as employees and are not subjected to drug tests.

White House spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn said the drug testing program, which began during the Reagan administration, will continue for all employees except the two involved in the suit, Arthur W. Stigile and Ellen Balis, economists at the White House Office of Management and Budget. The Richey ruling only bars the government from drug testing the two plaintiffs. Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU's National Capital Area Affiliate, who represented Stigile and Balis, said the ruling could affect about 500 other employees.