RALEIGH - The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina today criticized North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis for proposing that recipients of public aid in North Carolina – and possibly every state employee – be subjected to drug testing as a way to “divide and conquer” those receiving public assistance.

“Drug testing as a requirement for public assistance is not only a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights but notoriously ineffective,” said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Testing every public aid recipient or state employee, regardless of their job or whether or not they are suspected of drug use, would represent an egregious, wasteful, and unjustified invasion of privacy for potentially millions of North Carolinians.”

Tillis made his comments during a recent town hall meeting at Mars Hill College. Video of the comments is available here and here.

Drug testing of welfare recipients is opposed by an array of public health organizations, including the American Public Health Association; National Association of Social Workers, Inc.; National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors; Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs; National Health Law Project, National Association on Alcohol, Drugs and Disability, Inc.; National Advocates for Pregnant Women; Juvenile Law Center, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.

In 2009, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that the Graham County Board of Education’s proposal to conduct random drug testing of all its employees was unconstitutional. Earlier this year the ACLU of Florida filed a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Rick Scott over legislation that would require recipients of government aid to undergo random drug testing.

More information about the ineffectiveness of drug testing as a requirement for receiving public assistance can be found on the ACLU's website here.