Judge Blocks Fla.’s New Welfare Drug Testing Law

WLS (Orlando), October 24, 2011

A federal judge temporarily blocked Florida’s new law that requires welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits on Monday, saying it may violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Judge Mary Scriven ruled in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who sought the benefits while finishing his college degree, but refused to take the test. The judge said there was a good chance plaintiff Luis Lebron would succeed in his challenge to the law based on the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals from being unfairly searched.

The drug test can reveal a host of private medical facts about the individual, Scriven wrote, adding that she found it “troubling” that the drug tests are not kept confidential like medical records. The results can also be shared with law enforcement officers and a drug abuse hotline.

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The law’s proponents include Gov. Rick Scott, who said during his campaign the measure would save $77 million. It’s unclear how he arrived at those figures. {snip}

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Earlier this year, Scott also ordered drug testing of new state workers and spot checks of existing state employees under him. But testing was suspended after the American Civil Liberties Union also challenged that policy in a separate lawsuit.

Nearly 1,600 applicants have refused to take the test since testing began in mid-July, but they aren’t required to say why. Thirty-two applicants failed the test and more than 7,000 have passed, according to the Department of Children and Families. {snip}

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Under the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families program, the state gives $180 a month for one person or $364 for a family of four.

Those who test positive for drugs are ineligible for the cash assistance for one year, though passing a drug course can cut that period in half. If they fail a second time, they are ineligible for three years.

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  • Anonymous

    When you are on Public Assistance, there are no privacy rights.

  • Anonymous

    Could they be afraid the results would have “disparate impact” on a particular demographic?

  • Anonymous

    You have to drug test for a job and do a back ground check for employers . I think you should have back ground checks and drug test. Hell the law enforcement now if walfare doing drugs . So drug test them .

  • Question Diversity

    When is using an illegal drug a matter of the right to privacy? Using this standard, then nobody’s person, car or house could ever be searched for illegal drugs. Besides, this is all attached to state expenditures of money, and I would presume a state can specify the parameters on how it spend its own money.

  • Anonymous

    People take from society but with no social responsibility in return.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! Money is fungible, so the drug abuser can in effect take the welfare money and spend it on drugs. Brilliant. Why not use the unwillingness to provide welfare as an incentive to get rehab’ed?

  • Spartan24

    If a person has to be drug tested for a job, an apartment or in many other situations then it makes sense that a person should be tested before receiving benefits. I agree- I think that certain groups would be “desperately impacted” so everything is being done to stop any testing. It is pretty obvious that many receipients are exchanging benefits for cash or drugs.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, in case you were wondering, Judge Mary Scriven is a black woman. What a coincidence!

    http://goo.gl/k4F12

  • Anonymous

    Forget the drug test. We should require sterilization if they want free money and housing. Let them o.d. to their hearts’ desire. If they stop reproducing, our problems would be over. Our civiliation would be saved. Seeing that we’re the ones paying for these welfare baby factories, we should have the final say on what happens to our money.

  • Sincerely Concerned

    As a new Floridian, as I have stated in other posts, I was shocked to see the state of affairs here. Most urban people, black, white, latino, you name it, vote Democrat and truly revile any elected Republican. The local newspapers and Creative Loafing are forever bashing Rick Scott. Every online story (go ahead and Google him and see what the Huffington Post says on the first search page) also bashes him. Even the article herein does so by saying, “it is unclear how he arrived at those figures”. Why? Did they not ask him? Did they not conduct their own research or attempt to find research that’s already been done?

    Regardless, every white person I talk to in this entire town about welfare, panhandling, and other associated problems like gun crime, drug use, etc., says they want to see less welfare, more work, a crackdown on crime, and for people to be busted for anything more than a small amount of marijuana (I hang with an entertainment-based crowd). Yet, in the next breath they will pontificate about Scott, evil corporations, evil Republicans, how much they support Move On and OWS. It’s absolutely amazing.

    The only thing I can figure is that people want it both ways and that is another way of saying a “Utopia”. They complain about paying high taxes and extremely high car insurance rates yet don’t see the connection between welfare and taxes and insurance rates and auto accident fraud. They have their heads in the proverbial sand. Fitting. We are surrounded by beaches here.

  • Ron

    Mary Scriven was nominated by neo-con extraordinaire George W. Bush towards the end of 2008, no doubt at the insistance of his equally neo-con brother, Jeb Bush. I’m sure her confirmation flew through the Democrat-controlled Congress with nary a hiccup.

  • Anonymous

    welfare….of any kind, for any person, for any reason, is nowhere to be found in the Constitution of the U.S. Ergo, NOTHING ABOUT A NON-EXISTING SOMETHING can be un-Constitutional!

    I look forward to the day and will gladly follow the white man who will LEAD us out of this mess.

    Where are you????

  • Anonymous

    Ho hum! Welfare is so Twentieth Century! Look, as I understand matters, most benefits are federal. What used to be welfare recipients used to have to be bothered by all those nosy and pesky social workers looking thru closets for evidence of a man living with the woman, and all that. Today’s modern tax burden gets (partial list) SSI for being disabled (I have seen a lot of bipolar diagnoses). Federal. Food Stamps- Federal, Section 8 housing – Federal, Medicaid- Federal, Earned Income Tax Credit- Federal, SSI for each child with a diagnosis of Attention Disorder or the like (called “crazy money”. )- Federal. There are a lot more benefits. These cannot be taken away without some serious litigation and no drug tests. What Florida is trying to do is trim around the edges; not gonna have any real effect.

  • Question Diversity

    Forgot this part: Even if Gov. Scott’s program came to fruition, it would do little good, because:

    Under the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families program, the state gives $180 a month for one person or $364 for a family of four.

    It only affects TANF, which is little used in the ghettos and barrios. Once the “Welfare (Not) Reform” act was signed, and AFDC changed to time limited TANF, a lot of former AFDC recipients switched over to SSI, which is Federal entirely and has no state input at all. Sometimes, a drug addiction was itself the grounds for “disability.”

    I don’t know what kind of phony Enron accounting Gov. Scott is using to arrive at this $77m savings figure, nor do I understand why the left is opposed.

  • Tom S.

    I say we drug Judge Scriven! I’ve never understood why liberal judges always seem to have the last word on how laws are implemented. Why can’t a conservative judge over rule them? Can someone explain that to me?

  • Anonymous

    RE #4 QD–small clairification. It is not the states money, it is the peoples. The state misuses its role as steward.

  • Vito Danelli

    This is an example of where the Congress has to step in to overrule such judicial madness. Public Assistance shouldn’t come with some strings attached? If someone can be drug-tested for employment, then they certainly can be drug-tested for Public Assistance (notice I didn’t say “welfare” – I want to be PC)

  • white is right, black is whack

    What about the rights of taxpayers (of all races) who don’t want to foot the bill for freeloaders and losers? While I’m pro-white as many here, I loathe a white person going on welfare and doing it to have more kids just as much as I loathe blacks who do the same. Again, while pro-white, I would have more respect for a black person that worked hard, paid taxes, wasn’t on public assistance than I would a loser white person who went on welfare, was one of those protestor losers and had more kids just to get bigger welfare checks.

  • Anonymous

    #9- Excellent! But only in our dreams! 🙂

    _____________________

    In order to get Energy Assistance one has to allow them random home inspections, supposedly so they can make sure there are only X number of people living there, etc. How is that any different from the drug testing scenario? They’re still giving up their right to privacy to get something free.

  • patriot

    Courts have ruled for years that private employers can do drug testing. So why on earth wouldn’t the government be able to do the same thing with regards to something so obviously beneficial to society as a whole?

    It’s like there is some evil cadre of people in the government and in positions of power out to destroy this country.

  • Who In Their White Mind?

    Sincerely Concerned-you are kidding right? I don’t know the Whites you know but that’s beside the point. It’s called common sense. Of course most Whites are going to be against corporations and their endless tax breaks and environmental pollutions, and thier “give us more & we’ll give you less” attitudes. Not all corporations are like that bit a considerably large component are. And they know they’ve got people where they want them. Unhappily and begrudgingly employed.

    In case you haven’t followed politics in the last twenty or thirty years, there was a time when Republicans stood up for working Americans. And they were also fiscally conservative and racially aware. Those are what new so-called neo-cons and neo-liberals would refer to in this day and age as “dinosaurs.” Democrats used to lobby for their voting bloc, too. And that included unions, socially liberal causes, free speech, privacy rights, and minorities. Guess who is the last one standing out of that sequence, and protected to no end because of unscrupulous corporate practices and self-serving liberals? Oh, and the race-baiting charlatans, you can guess.

  • the Soviet Republic of New Jersey

    DON’T YOU WHITE PEOPLE GET IT YET?

    You no longer have any rights in your own country. The government and its courts can make up as many exceptions to your rights and freedom as it chooses. If you object, the government treats you as a criminal and enemy. No matter what you do you are wrong in the eyes of the courts, Congress and government. Your only hope is to break away from the nation peacefully but you know the goal is genocide. So, you better be prepared to fight and die if necessary to have our own homeland. There isn’t any room for Americans in in America anymore.

    TEA

  • Sincerely Concerned

    In reply to # 21 Who in their White Mind:

    I am not kidding—just reporting what I experienced. And I am 45 years old and have been following politics since I was a teen. I even stood up to my ultra-liberal Government teacher in high school, was called with her to the principal’s office, and won the argument and the grade I deserved.

    It sounds more like you are going on an anti-capitalism tirade here but perhaps I am misunderstanding you. Then again, maybe not. In your own words:

    “Of course most Whites are going to be against corporations and their endless tax breaks and environmental pollutions”…

    WHAT? For one, corporations getting tax breaks keep people employed. And environmental pollution is horrible but sadly a by-product of production. Also: why just whites?

    “and thier “give us more & we’ll give you less” attitudes.”

    Sounds like you have an anger issue about corporations. Did you get laid off recently? Or are you underpaid? Aren’t we all?

    “Not all corporations are like that bit a considerably large component are. And they know they’ve got people where they want them. Unhappily and begrudgingly employed.”

    Oh, well, maybe you are still employed by some large corporation. Would you rather be unemployed? Sounds like it.

    I’m not defending big corporations here but I find it funny that people vote Demo then complain about the bad parts of doing so. That is all I was really trying to point out.

  • Gridlock

    I have a very simple fix for the judge’s intervention.

    Test for drug usage or Welfare services (voluntary aid)are cancelled immediately.

    If I play sports (voluntary), then the Supreme Court has no problems with myself being drug tested.

    If I get a job (voluntary), then the Supreme Court has no problems with myself being drug tested.

    If I drive a car (voluntary), at any DUI checkpoint, the Supreme Court has no problems with myself being drug tested.

    Easiest fix is for that State to immediately cease all Welfare/childcare/free housing aid unless a satisfactory ruling is reached. If a satisfactory ruling is not reached, then immediately permanently cease all Welfare/childcare/free housing aid.

    Simple, clean, precise.