Friday, January 03, 2014

Florida can't drug test people simply because they’re poor

Citing the 4th Amendment's protections against unreasonable government searches, a federal District Court handed down a blistering decision in the final hours of 2013 that knocked down a Florida law mandating that all applicants for the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program submit to suspicionless drug tests.

In the order, Judge Mary Scriven of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida rejects the state’s arguments and evidence defending the constitutionality of the suspicionless search program, stating that the court “finds there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”

Governor Rick Scott campaigned hard for this law, making the dubious claim that applicants for public assistance are more likely than the general population to be drug users and therefore that they should be subjected to mandatory and suspicionless searches of their urine. It turned out that so few applicants for public assistance actually tested positive for drugs – during the short period of time during which this law was operational – that Florida ended up shelling out thousands more dollars reimbursing those who tested negative than it saved on public assistance payments to those who tested positive.

Read the post at the ACLU Blog of Rights here.


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