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Federal appeals court rules to keep ban on welfare drug testing

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The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld a ban on welfare drug testing Tuesday.

In 2011, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature instituted a program that required Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants to submit to drug testing. The measure was later challenged and banned in a lower court when the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit.

TANF is a block grant program that helps move recipients into work and turn welfare into a program of temporary assistance, according to its website.

Scott said the decision was “disturbing” and that he would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, according to a press release from The News Service of Florida.

The federal appeals court ruled that the state did not show a “special need” to drug test TANF applicants because there was no evidence to warrant the law.

“As the district court found, the state failed to offer any factual support or to present any empirical evidence of a ‘concrete danger’ of illegal drug use within Florida’s TANF population,” the press release said.

Baylor Johnson, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Spokesman , said Tuesday’s decision was, “a big win for the 4th Amendment rights of all Floridians, not just applicants.”

If Scott pursues an appeal to the Supreme Court, Johnson said the ACLU of Florida is prepared to continue to challenge the measure.

Johnson said he believes it’s wrong to “treat an entire group of people like criminals just because they’re poor.”

About Casey Christ

Casey is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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