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Federal Judge Throws Out Florida’s Drug Testing of Welfare Applicants Law

Not long ago, Florida passed a law that required people applying for certain welfare benefits to take a drug test regardless of whether there was any evidence they used drugs. Whether this was about politics or the governor’s wife having an interest in the company that secured the lucrative contract to do the testing, it did not seem to be in compliance with the constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Constitution provides that the government cannot search a person, and requiring a urine sample constitutes a search, without specific evidence that the person has committed a crime. This applies to both rich and poor people. Applying for welfare is not sufficient evidence that someone has committed a crime, even use or possession of drugs.

The law passed and apparently, due to the very low percentage of welfare applicants who failed the drug tests, the program cost more than it saved. However, as expected, an additional cost was the automatic lawsuit against the government that followed the law’s passage. Recently, a federal judge decided that the law is unconstitutional. The judge simply and predictably found that the government cannot drug test people without a valid search warrant and/or specific evidence that the person is involved in criminal activity.

Although no one paying attention would believe this law was ever about saving taxpayer money, quite the opposite, the governor has indicated an intention to appeal the decision.