Federal Judge Blocked Florida’s Drug Testing Laws

Florida’s new law regarding welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.

Judge Mary Scriven says it may violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment for unreasonable search and seizures. This ruling comes in reaction to a lawsuit that was filed by Luis Lebron, a 35 year old Navy veteran and single father who was seeking welfare benefits while completing his college degree. He refused to take the test and decided to take action and sue the state of Florida.

The judge stated that Lebron, has a good chance of succeeded in his argument to challenge this new drug testing law.

Judge Scriven wrote that these drug tests can expose a variety of private medical information about an individual and said it was “troubling” that the drug tests would not be confidential like medical records. The results of these drug tests are given to law enforcement officers and a drug abuse hotline.

“This potential interception of positive drug tests by law enforcement implicates a ‘far more substantial’ invasion of privacy than in ordinary civil drug testing cases,” Scriven said.

The judge has also stated that the state of Florida has not shown that the drug testing program meets criteria for exceptions to the Fourth Amendment.

Lebron, who is the only guardian of his 4 year old son, stated that he’s “happy that the judge stood up for me and my rights and said the state can’t act without a reason or suspicion.”

The Temporarily Assistance For Needy Families program in Florida gives $180 a month for one person or $364 for a family of four.

Gov. Rick Scott who is an advocate for the drug testing program stated during his campaign that the drug testing program would save the state $77 million. However, it is unclear how he came about that figure.

Since testing began in mid-July there have been 1,600 applicants who have refused the take the test. More than 7,000 have passed and thirty two applicants have failed the test, according to the Department of Children and Families. The bulk of the failed tests were for marijuana.

Currently, the date for the hearing is not scheduled.

 

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