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Federal Judge Throws Out Florida Welfare Drug Test Law

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drug test testing welfareBy Phillip Smith

In a ruling out of Orlando Tuesday, US District Court Judge Mary Scriven permanently halted enforcement of Florida’s suspicionless drug testing of welfare applicants and recipients. The 2011 law had been in abeyance since a preliminary injunction was issued against it earlier.

“There is nothing inherent in the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a concrete danger that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use,” Scriven wrote in her opinion in Lebron v. Florida Department of Children and Families. She found that “there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”

The law required anyone applying for welfare benefits to undergo a drug test without any particularized suspicion that he or she was using drugs. The federal courts have been loath to okay suspicionless drug testing, with a few notable exceptions for workers in public safety positions and some school kids.

Luis Lebron, the plaintiff in the case, who is also the sole caretaker of his disabled mother, was a 35-year-old full-time student at the University of Central Florida when he applied for temporary assistance in July 2011, to support his then 4-year-old son. When informed that he would be subjected to a humiliating and invasive search without cause or suspicion, Lebron refused to waive his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure by submitting to the newly-required drug test.

“I’m really pleased with the court’s decision,” said Lebron. “This confirms what I believed all along — that what the government was asking people like me and my family to do was wrong. I’m proud that standing up against that is going to make a difference for other families like mine.”

“This is a victory not just for Luis and his family, but for all Floridians who would have been forced to submit to invasive and humiliating searches of their bodily fluids just because they need temporary help making ends meet,” stated Maria Kayanan, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida and lead attorney on the case. “In reconfirming that the Fourth Amendment protects all of us, regardless of wealth or status, Judge Scriven’s decision soundly rejects the notion that the government can treat an entire class of Floridians like suspected criminals simply for being poor. We are thrilled to ring in the New Year with the Court’s opinion.”

“The Court today affirmed that the 4th Amendment protects everyone, including those who need temporary assistance from the government,” stated Randall Berg of the Florida Justice Institute and co-counsel with the ACLU. “Requiring suspicionless drug testing of TANF recipients is a slippery slope toward requiring drug testing for the receipt of any kind of government benefit, including social security, farm subsidies, and student scholarships. A clear line must be drawn, and the court did so today.”

Gov. Rick Scott (R) said he would appeal the decision.

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  • Drug Test Consultant

    Drug use really has nothing to do with has and has nots. It’s a part of the global economy and we, meaning the U.S. are the largest consumers on the planet. http://www.passdrugtestsfast.com

  • Drug Test Consultant

    Drug use really has nothing to do with has and has nots. It’s a part of the global economy and we, meaning the U.S. are the largest consumers on the planet. http://www.passdrugtestsfast.com

  • Slippy

    Drug test members of the gov are they above the average seems to me they get away with everything. Misdemeanor for gram of coke In dc .in Florida a seed will get you a year in jail and loss of your drivers license for two year and wait a thousand dollar fine you got to be kidding me

  • Closet Smoker

    Just because you VOLUNTARILY gave up your fourth amendment rights to please the demands of a employer does not give you the right to forcibly take away someone else’s fourth amendment rights. The PRIMARY substance they find is cannabis. Yes you would want the rest of the drugs, but if I was to be a user of meth and knew I had to pee clean, all I have to do is stay away from it for 48-72 hours, get tested, then I can go right back to using. I will pee clean. Can’t do that with pot, it will make you pee dirty for a month or more. This policy is also rife with unfair enforcement, If there is anything that allows a official to decide who is tested on a persons race, creed, etc., because that official felt that individual is more likely to use, it will be applied with racial bias. Lastly, unless you have certain safety critical duties, You, yes, YOU SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT for employment proposes. I do not feel that employers should have any right to know what you do on your own time. Yes, if you come to work under the influence of ANYTHING, legal or not, prescription, over the counter meds etc., if you are not safe to work and you break that policy, them by all means you should face repercussions.

  • Max R Monzo

    so you r saying its ok for an employer drug test you for a job to make money but dont test the lazy ones who would rather live off the state than get a job an if the grow it “if they are legal” that shit aint cheap either so you tell me you feel its wrong that they want to test you for the money you receave from the state for free an it ok to test you to get a job to earn money no wonder this country is in the hole

  • Anj555

    Where’s the alcohol test??

  • Brushpile

    Shits gotta change !
    It would be nice if it was COMONSEANCE Drivin ?

  • Sarijuana

    Too bad there isn’t a test for stupid.

  • Sarijuana

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Yours is unfortunately lacking any substance or fact.

  • Sarijuana

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Yours is unfortunately lacking any substance or fact.

  • Andi

    You are an embarrassment.

  • molo the weed smoker

    I live in a state where medical marijuana is legal and one can grow their own and doesn’t have to pay for it, and if they are testing just because they don’t think you should be spending money on it. Then how is that fair to someone who doesn’t spend a penny on it bcuz they grow to lose their assistance.

  • Rick

    Any one against the law must be ok with the users buying drugs with their money. Anyone who thinks this doesn’t happen is ignorant. Those of you who aren’t on drugs…Wtf are you worried for? I work my ass off and had to be drug tested to get my job. It’s not fair! I don’t pay taxes to enable some loser to make a career out of being on welfare. This is my opinion, which I am entitled to and fuck anyone who doesn’t like it. I don’t care. I, also, think that judge must be on drugs or alcohol, most of them are!

  • Craig

    I’m a Florida resident, and I can tell you that there’s nothing more embarrassing than having mandatory drug testing of applicants/recipients of welfare WHEN AT THE SAME DAMN TIME, Congressman Trey Radel (voted for mandatory testing) was busted for possession of cocaine!!! How much longer will we put up with the hypocrisy that has become normal behavior? When will the average Joes, and average Janes, who greatly outnumber the “untouchables,” decide that enough is enough?

  • clay

    Rick Scott ia a tool. No one should have to do this. Glad this was thrown out.

  • Jetdoc

    Why test those you SUSPECT of doing drugs, when you don’t test ALCOHOLICS or Students applying for Student Aid. There is ZERO difference between the two! Rick Scott can APPEAL the decision if he so chooses. REMEMBER that he DID this when it comes time for Re-election!