Fla. appeals ban on testing welfare seekers

Federal Judge Mary Scriven temporarily suspended a Florida law requiring welfare applicants be drug tested in order to receive benefits. On Monday, Oct. 24, Scriven issued the injunction against the state on the basis that the law could violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on illegal search and seizure.

In her order, Scriven mentions that the state was unable to prove “special needs” as to why it should perform such searches without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, as the law calls for. Welfare applicants are required to pay $25 to $45 for the test, but are reimbursed by the state if they pass.

Scriven’s ruling was in response to a recent lawsuit. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state in September on behalf of Luis Lebron, a single father and Navy veteran earning his college degree. He met all the criteria for collecting welfare, but he refused to submit to a drug test.

According to the Department of Children and Families, 32 applicants have failed the test, and more than 7,000 have passed since testing began in mid-July. The majority of positive tests were for marijuana.

Governor Rick Scott, who signed the measure into law on May 31, promoted it as a way to guarantee taxpayer money isn’t “wasted” on those who use drugs. “Hopefully more people will focus on not using illegal drugs,” he said then. Whether the state has saved money is still uncertain.

Information for this article taken from www.miamiherald.com

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