Constitutional Protections

The drug war has quietly encroached on our most deeply valued rights and freedoms.  Since the war on drugs began four decades ago, the Supreme Court has sent a consistent message that when it comes to fighting drug crime, personal liberties take a back seat.  In most drug-related cases brought before the Court, the majority has favored scaling back constitutional protections, clearing the way for drug policies that infringe on our rights to free speech, religious expression and protection from unreasonable searches.  These rulings have essentially created a “drug exception” to the Constitution.  Since drug law violations are private acts with no complaining witness, our Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure has proven particularly vulnerable to drug war policies.  Police now routinely search individuals without cause, raid homes on flimsy evidence, and engage in racial profiling.  Countless drug enforcement practices strike at the heart of what the Fourth Amendment is all about, including wiretapping, surveillance, the use of confidential informants, and entrapment.  Employers, schools and hospitals may conduct suspicionless drug testing that has dire consequences, and people with drug convictions can be denied voting rights in many states.  DPA has made eliminating the “drug exception” to the Constitution a top priority and is working to restore the constitutional protections sacrificed in the name of prohibition.