WUFT News

Federal Judge Strikes Florida Drug Test For Welfare Applicants

By on January 1st, 2014

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a Florida law requiring applicants for welfare benefits to undergo mandatory drug testing, ruling it was unconstitutional and shouldn’t be enforced.

U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven’s 30-page order made permanent an earlier, temporary ban on the law by the judge.

Gov. Rick Scott had backed the drug testing of prospective welfare recipients, arguing it helped protect taxpayers and families. He said in a statement Tuesday that his administration would appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

“Any illegal drug use in a family is harmful and even abusive to a child,” Scott said. “We should have a zero tolerance policy for illegal drug use in families, especially those families who struggle to make ends meet and need welfare assistance to provide for their children.”

Opponents of the law had argued it was an unconstitutional search and seizure. The judge agreed, writing that there was no pervasive drug problem among applicants for the welfare program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The judge said she could find “no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”

Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, called the order “a nice New Year’s present.” The ACLU helped challenge the 2011 law on behalf of Luis Lebron, a Navy veteran and single father from Orlando who refused to submit to a drug test for TANF benefits.

The judge’s decision may give pause to a handful of other states that have either passed or are in the process of passing similar laws before they are enacted, including Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, Simon said.

“The court is sending a message to politicians that they’re not going to be allowed to treat poor people as if they have no constitutional rights,” Simon said.


This entry was posted in Florida and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Troy Russell Ivie

    If employer’s are aloud to drug screen for employment their employee’s or potential employee’s, then it should be mandatory that anybody asking for any type of government assistance be required to under go the same screening, Doing other wise promotes and encourages more drug abuse.

 

More Stories in Florida

Scott Richardson, 52, co-owner of Northwest Seafood Inc., fillets fresh-caught red grouper purchased from one of Northwest Seafood’s trusted fisherman in Yankeetown, Florida. “It pays to know your fish man,” said Lee Deaderick, Richardson’s business partner.

Florida Fishermen Face Fierce Competition

Florida fisherman are concerned with the growing taste for imported fish. As imports from other countries increase, questions of ethics and safety are floating to the surface.


BearHunt1

Protestors Voice Concern Over Proposed Bear Hunt

Protesters voiced their opposition to the proposed bear hunt on Monday outside of the Ocala office for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The FWC is expected to vote on the issue Wednesday.


John King, recreational fisherman from Dunnellon, Fla., shows off a red snapper caught during the 2013 season. King said recreational fishermen should have longer than 10 days to catch and keep red snapper this year.

Amendment 40 Splits Red Snapper Season, Extending For Charters

Red snapper season was divided on June 1 into two recreational sectors: federal for-hire charter captains and private recreational fishermen. The season for recreational fisherman will be limited to 10 consecutive days, ending at 12:01 a.m. on June 11.


House, Senate Still Stuck in Health Debate

Florida legislators began a special session Monday to pass a budget for the year beginning July 1. But the House and Senate are still in a stalemate over whether to adopt a Senate proposal use Medicaid expansion money from the Affordable Care Act to help lower-income Floridians purchase private health insurance.


Court Limits Damages In UCF Player’s Death

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday the parents of University of Central Florida football player, Ereck Plancher, are limited to collecting $200,000 in a lawsuit they filed against UCF Athletics Association, Inc. Plancher collapsed and died in March 2008 after off-season football drills supervised by football coach George O’Leary.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments