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

Supreme Court Decision Reopens Juvenile Sentences

Florida inmates serving life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles should be resentenced under guidelines that went into effect last year, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday.


Boy, 9, Dies In Ocala National Forest House Fire

A 9-year-old boy died after a fire broke out at his mobile home in the Ocala National Forest. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire.


While swamps filled up early Thursday with gallons and gallons of rainwater, the flooding was largely contained in the Big Bend region compared to the deluge from Tropical Storm Debby in 2012.

Group Wants Probe of Whether Fla. Banned Climate-Change Talk

Former state employees claim supervisors forbade them from using the term “climate change.” A Florida environmental group is requesting an investigation.


A ribbon cutting took place at the ceremonial signing of development contracts between the city of New Port Richey, Florida and developers Yaakov Rosner and Abraham Rosner of Florida Motel Inc. on Feb. 10 at the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey, Florida. Pictured left to right is Mario Iezzoni, Chopper Davis, Bill Phillips, Judy DeBella Thomas, Yaakov Rosner, Abraham Rosner, Rob Marlowe, Debbie Manns, Madison Starkey, Jeff Starkey and Dylan Starkey. Photo courtesy of Gary Gann.

State Funds Used To Restore Historic Florida Hotel

Restoration efforts have begun on the historic Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey, Florida. Once finished, the boutique hotel will feature 31 guest rooms, multiple banquet rooms and a possible restaurant.


Kayla Gilligan, 11, serves strawberry shortcakes at the second annual Strawberry Festival in Ocala. Gilligan, who attends Howard Middle School, says volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is fun, knowing that it helps toward making a difference in the community she lives.

Marion Strawberry Festival Is Sweet For Habitat For Humanity

Marion County held its second annual Strawberry Festival on Saturday. All proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity in order to help build homes for the Belleview community.


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