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Wall Street Journal Reports Judge Blocks Drug Testing for government assistance applicants

  • U.S. NEWS
  • OCTOBER 24, 2011, 5:28 P.M. ET
Florida Welfare Drug-Testing Law Blocked by Judge
Associated Press

 

ORLANDO,  Fla.—A federal judge temporarily blocked Florida’s new law that  requires government-assistance applicants to pass a drug test before  receiving the benefits on Monday, saying it may violate the  Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

 

Judge  Mary Scriven’s ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American  Civil Liberties Union that claims the law is unconstitutional. The  lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single  father who sought the benefits while finishing his college degree, but  refused to take the test.
Nearly  1,600 applicants have refused to take the test since testing began in  mid-July, but they aren’t required to say why. Thirty-two applicants  failed the test and more than 7,000 have passed, according to the  Department of Children and Families. The majority of positives were for  marijuana.
Supporters  say applicants skipped the test because they knew they would have  tested positive for drugs. Applicants must pay $25 to $35 for the test  and are reimbursed by the state if they pass. It’s unclear if the state  has saved money. During his campaign, Gov. Rick Scott said the measure  would save $77 million, but it’s unclear how he arrived at those  figures.
Under  the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, the state gives  $180 a month for one person or $364 for a family of four.
Those  who test positive for drugs are ineligible for the cash assistance for  one year, though passing a drug course can cut that period in half. If  they fail a second time, they are ineligible for three years.

 

The  ACLU says Florida was the first to enact such a law since Michigan  tried more than a decade ago. Michigan’s random drug-testing program for  welfare recipients lasted five weeks in 1999 before it was halted by a  judge, kicking off a four-year legal battle that ended with an appeals  court ruling it unconstitutional.

 

Retrieved on October 25, 2011 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204777904576651441808024396.html