ACLU Sues Florida for Welfare Drug Testing

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is suing the state of Florida because they believe the new drug testing law that went into effect on July 1st is unconstitutional. This law requires any newly welfare applicant to pass a drug test before receiving public aid. The ACLU says this constitutes an illegal search and they hope to abolish this law entirely.

Demonstrators believe that these applicants are being singled out based on the stereotype that poor people are more likely to use illegal drugs. They argue that other government programs such as student loans, food stamps and business grants do not require drug testing.

Supporters of this new drug law along with Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott states that private businesses have been requiring such tests for years and government should be no different. The Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association has released a survey which found 57% of employers to require drug tests for all job applicants.

The ACLU filed this suit in the District Court in Orlando earlier in September. Members of the ACLU which includes Miami-based Florida Justice Institute has filed a motion to stop the drug testing until the court case is over, and they know the constitutionality of the drug testing laws.

Currently any new applicants for welfare assistance will have to pay around $25 to $45 for a urine drug tests for illegal drugs. If the test is found to show negative results, the applicant will be reimbursed for the drug test. In the event of a positive drug test the applicant will not receive benefits for a year and will not be reimbursed. Although under the law, they can choose to designate a person to receive the welfare benefits on behalf of their children.

The agency who monitors the program stated that only 2 percent of the recipients have tested positive for illegal drugs.



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