Florida welfare drug tests temporarily blocked by federal judge
Orlando, Florida: On Monday, October 25, Federal District Judge Mary Scriven issued a temporary block against a state law that requires applicants for federal welfare in Florida to take drug tests. The temporary block came as part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of a man who refused to take the test saying it violated his constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The law, which went into effect in July of this year, allows the Florida Department of Children and Family Services to require drug tests of adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The aid recipients are responsible for paying for the tests, but are compensated if the qualify.
In the case before Judge Scriven, Luis Lebron, who is an unemployed adult college student who cares for his 4 year old son and disabled mother, filed for welfare assistance but refused to take the test. Lebron maintains that he has never used illegal drugs and, instead, opposes the testing on constitutional grounds. The ACLU agreed with Lebron that the tests were unlawful and filed suit with the Middle District of Florida. Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, says that the law is unreasonable and said, "This is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, that you can't condition getting some benefit from the government by surrendering your constitutional rights." The state, however, believes it is a strong deterrent for drug users to apply for welfare and believes that the law is popular among the people of Florida, saying that it protects taxpayers from subsidizing drug users.
The temporary block on the law will last until the case with ACLU is resolved.