The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled unanimously that Florida’s welfare drug testing law, championed by Governor Rick Scott, is unconstitutional. The court concluded that there’s no evidence to explain why it’s necessary to force individuals seeking funding through the Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) program to submit to unreasonable search in order to receive aid. The court suggested that the policy plays on stereotypes.
“We have no reason to think impoverished individuals are necessarily and inherently prone to drug use, or, for that matter, are more prone to drug use than the general population,’’ the court said in its ruling. To the contrary, the court cited a study from 2000 which showed that recipients of TANF are actually less likely than the general public to use illegal drugs.
“This should be the end of the road for the governor’s crusade,’’ said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “The opinion says that people cannot be forced to surrender constitutional rights as a condition of any government benefit – driver licenses, library cards, student loans and farm subsidies.”
According to Governor Scott’s spokeswoman Jackie Schultz, the administration is “reviewing the ruling”.