Opinion handed down December 7, 2015; corrected December 9, 2015; vacated February 18, 2016.
In 2011, Linn State Technical College enacted a mandatory drug test policy. The purpose of the policy was to ensure a safe and healthy environment for students and faculty frequently engaged in the handling and operation of heavy machinery, as well as deterring drug use of students preparing to enter highly regulated, safety-sensitive fields. After surviving a facial Fourth Amendment challenge, the drug test policy was challenged on an as-applied basis. The trial court held the policy constitutional, but only as applied to educational programs involving a particularly high safety risk, which then required the trial court to determine which technical programs fell into such a category.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the trial court, determining that a program-by-program analysis was unnecessary, and held that the drug-test policy is constitutional as applied to all Linn State students. Ruling under the premise that drug use and the operation of any machinery is a recipe for harm, the court determined that Linn State’s interests in providing a safe atmosphere trumped the students’ privacy interests against being tested for drugs.
Recently, the Eighth Circuit granted a motion for rehearing en banc, vacating this opinion, and momentarily leaving this issue of the law in limbo.