Florida judge issues injunction against unconstitutional drug-test-for-benefits law

This is very good news.  A federal judge for Florida’s Middle District, Mary Scriven, issued a temporary injunction against Florida’s unconstitutional mandatory drug-testing-for-welfare-benefits law.

In the order, she noted that the law likely violates the Fourth Amendment ban against illegal search and seizure.  The ACLU brought suit on behalf of a 35 year old Navy veteran who refused to take the test, because the state had no reason to suspect that he was using drugs.

Lebron met all the criteria for receiving welfare, but refused to submit to a drug test on the grounds that requiring him to pay for and submit to one is unreasonable when there is no reason to believe he uses drugs.

Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the measure into law on May 31, touted it as a way to ensure taxpayer money isn’t “wasted” on those who use drugs. “Hopefully more people will focus on not using illegal drugs,” he said then.

But, in her order, Scriven issued a scathing assessment of the state’s argument in favor of the drug tests, saying the state failed to prove “special needs” as to why it should conduct such searches without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, as the law requires.

“If invoking an interest in preventing public funds from potentially being used to fund drug use were the only requirement to establish a special need,” Scriven wrote, “the state could impose drug testing as an eligibility requirement for every beneficiary of every government program. Such blanket intrusions cannot be countenanced under the Fourth Amendment.”

Other information of interest in the article is that out of over 7000 applicants, only 32 have failed the test, although 1600 have refused to take it at all.   The amount of the benefit that taking this test qualifies you for is $180/month for one person, or $364/month for a family of four.   The tests cost $25-$45, and the cost is reimbursed by the state if you pass.

Obviously, this was never about saving money.  It’s all about criminalizing and scapegoating poverty.




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