Federal Judge Throws Out Florida’s Suspicionless Welfare Drug Testing Law
In a ruling released this week, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Scriven has put a permanent halt on Florida’s suspicionless drug testing of welfare applicants and recipients, which was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in 2011.
“There is nothing inherent in the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a concrete danger that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use,” Scriven wrote in her official opinion of the case; Lebron v. Florida Department of Children and Families. Scriven found that; “there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”
Under the law in question, anyone applying for welfare benefits are forced to undergo a drug test – at their own expense – regardless of whether or not there’s any reason for the state to believe that that particular individual is a user of drugs.
“This is a victory [for] all Floridians who would have been forced to submit to invasive and humiliating searches of their bodily fluids just because they need temporary help making ends meet,” says Maria Kayanan, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida, and lead attorney on the case. “In reconfirming that the Fourth Amendment protects all of us, regardless of wealth or status, Judge Scriven’s decision soundly rejects the notion that the government can treat an entire class of Floridians like suspected criminals simply for being poor. We are thrilled to ring in the New Year with the Court’s opinion.”