Judge Rules Rick Scott’s Welfare Drug Testing Law Unconstitutional

AP

A federal judge this week made permanent an earlier, temporary ban on a 2011 law signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) requiring welfare applicants to undergo drug tests.

According to the News Service of Florida, U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven on Tuesday ruled that the law is unconstitutional, writing that the urine tests mandated by the law violate the Fourth Amendment.

“[T]here is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied,” Scriven wrote.

Scott continued to maintain that the drug tests were necessary, and vowed to appeal Scriven’s ruling.

“Any illegal drug use in a family is harmful and even abusive to a child. We should have a zero tolerance policy for illegal drug use in families — especially those families who struggle to make ends meet and need welfare assistance to provide for their children,” Scott said in a statement on Tuesday. “We will continue to fight for Florida children who deserve to live in drug-free homes by appealing this judge’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.”

Scriven issued a preliminary order in October 2011 putting the law on hold — a decision that Scott then appealed. But an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel later agreed with Scriven, and Scriven “relied heavily on the 11th Circuit opinion” in her ruling on Tuesday, according to the News Service of Florida.

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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl@talkingpointsmemo.com
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