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

First Magnitude Brewing Company in Gainesville fills growlers in the 32-ounce size (left) and the gallon size (right). A longstanding ban on the popular 64-ounce growler prevents Florida craft breweries from filling or selling containers of that size.

Lawmakers Pass Bill To Aid Craft Brewers, End Growler War

Senate Bill 186 could end a long war between craft brewers and big beverage distributors over regulation of beer sales. The bill lifts the problematic requirement that craft breweries operate as tourist attractions and allows the breweries to sell beer in the popular 64-ounce, refillable “growler.”


The FSU Veterans Center is pushing for a bill to allow student veterans to pay in-state tuition. The attention their cause has received nationwide has given them hope they may succeed this year.

Bill Passed To Let Child Rape Victims Record Attackers

The Florida Legislature is sending Gov. Rick Scott a bill that would let children who are victims or potential victims of rape and other violent acts secretly record their attackers. The bill applies to victims who are under the age of 18.


bell7

Abortion Waiting Period Bill Goes To Florida Governor

A bill to require a 24-hour waiting period for abortions is headed to Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. The Senate voted 26-13 for the measure Friday after about an hour of debate.


The Alachua County Clerk of Court, located at 201 East University Ave., remained closed Saturday, April 18 during Operation Green Light. Assistant Clerk of Court Edward Stiles said that it would be too expensive to remain open for the promotion.

Waived Fees Help Drivers Save Money On Traffic Citations

As an effort to help traffic violators pay off citations, Clerks in the state of Florida initiated the money saving opportunity Operation Green Light. On Saturday, Alachua County hosted the promotion to waive fees to help residents cut the cost on paying off their citations.


Screen Shot

UF Students Welcome Bill Proposing Tax-Free Textbooks

A new law in Florida could help students save money on expensive textbooks. The bill looks to eliminate the sales tax from textbooks to give students a break on the hundreds they already spend on required texts.


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