• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a drug-testing program in the U.S. Customs Service that required urinalysis tests for employees who sought promotions to positions that involve drug interdiction, the carrying of firearms, or the handling of classified information.

A union of federal employees challenged the program as a violation of the Fourth Amendment because urine samples were taken without individualized suspicion, probable cause, or a search warrant. Writing for a narrow 5-4 majority, Justice Anthony M. KennedyKennedy, Anthony M.;National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab[National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab] applied a balancing test to conclude that the government’s compelling interests in public safety justified the program’s restrictions on the privacy expectations of law enforcement personnel who enforced drug statutes or carried weapons. Kennedy’s opinion, however, remanded the question of tests for those handling classified information to the lower court for additional consideration. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote that there was “no drug enforcement exception to the Constitution.” In a less controversial companion case, Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association[case]Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association[Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association] (1989), the justices voted seven to two to uphold federal regulations that required drug testing of all crew members of trains involved in serious accidents.Search and seizure;National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab[National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab]

Fourth Amendment

Privacy, right to

Search warrant requirement

Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association

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