Florida’s Welfare Drug Test Law Blocked by Judge

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Scriven has blocked the Florida law that requires drug testing of welfare applicants. A temporary injunction has been issued against the implementation of the law’s “suspicionless drug testing” of adults applying for welfare benefits. The law that took effect July 1 allows the Florida Department of Children and Family Services to require drug tests from adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The applicants will initially cover the cost of the screening. They will get back the money spent for the test if they pass it and qualify for the program. If an applicant fails, he or she may designate another adult to receive the benefits on behalf of his or her children. Those who failed will not get a refund for the cost of the tests, though. The law got its share of negative reactions, including the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Luis Lebron, an unemployed single father who looks after a 4-year-old son and a disabled mother. The class-action suit insists that the new law violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Judge Scriven wrote: “Perhaps no greater public interest exists than protecting a citizen’s rights under the Constitution.” She has agreed to temporarily block the enforcement of the drug testing until the ACLU lawsuit is settled.

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