ACLU To Florida: "Two Lawsuits. Three Days Apart. And It's Only The Beginning."
The American Civil Liberties Union says Florida is "ground zero" in their fight for civil liberties -- which explains why it filed two lawsuits in three days against Gov. Rick Scott-approved legislation.
The ACLU filed two federal lawsuits last week -- one against the drug testing of state employees, the other against the state's new voting reform law.
In the process, the ACLU also managed to make the governor look like a fool on national television.
Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, went on MSNBC with the lefty Rachel Maddow to rip on Gov. Scott's use of federal stimulus money in the state budget, anti-abortion laws, then the drug testing and voting laws they sued over.
"This is the whole ball of wax down here," Simon told Maddow. "We're just trying to do our job to protect the personal freedoms and civil liberties from the abuses of power of this government. And this governor."
The ACLU announced their first lawsuit, over drug-testing state employees, on Tuesday. The problem with that one, Simon says, is that the ACLU already sued the state over a very similar matter -- the suspicion-less drug testing of a Department of Juvenile Justice employee in 2004 -- and won.
"We don't know whether Gov. Scott didn't know it was unconstitutional, or just didn't care," Simon says. "But we do know that the government cannot force people to surrender their constitutional rights in order to work for the state. So, we challenged it in court."
The voting reform law -- which effectively makes it harder to carry out voter-registration drives -- is under scrutiny by the ACLU for allegedly being "race-based voter suppression."
Now, the Department of Justice has to decide whether Florida's law adheres to the federal Voting Rights Act. If it doesn't, the Justice Department would block its implementation statewide.
There will likely be more to come from the ACLU, as they call the most previous legislative session an "unprecedented assault on freedom," in which they say they are mounting an "unprecedented response."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.