Rick Scott's Drug Test for State Workers Appeal Shot Down by U.S. Supreme Court
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Commons
It looks like Gov. Rick Scott's crusade to randomly drug-test Florida's state workers has finally come to an end after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his request for a review of a lower court ruling that the policy was unconstitutional.
Scott's quest to have state workers urinate into a cup for a check began back in May 2011, when he signed into law a bill requiring that Florida's welfare recipients pass a drug test. The court eventually ruled that Scott and the state failed to show that their drug testing plan was so critical as to violate the Fourth Amendment to thousands of Floridians.
The state appealed, but was shot down by a three-judge panel that said the lower court was right to halt the law. That's when Scott turned his sights on state workers.
In March of 2013, Scott's lawyers asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate his executive order to administer drug tests on state workers -- about 85,000 of them.
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"We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed with what we have known all along: the question of whether the state has the power to compel all employees to submit to suspicionless searches without a good reason is settled and the answer is 'no,'" ACLU of Florida attorney Shalini Goel Agarwal said in a statement released Monday. "Every court that has heard Gov. Scott's argument agrees: without a threat to public safety or suspicion of drug use, people can't be required to sacrifice their constitutional rights in order to serve the people of Florida."
At the time of the lower court's ruling, Scott's attorneys said the drug testing was all about protecting public safety as well as boosting worker productivity.
Shortly after that last appeal was stuck down, Scott took to Twitter to say he was taking his fight to the highest court:
In a twist of irony perhaps lost on the governor, the Supreme Court ruled back in the 1990s that randomly making politicians take a drug test is unconstitutional.
On Monday, the Supreme Court turned Scott's appeal away without comment.
Meanwhile, the ACLU continues its fight against the state's desire to drug rest welfare recipients.
In a separate lawsuit filed on September 6, 2011, the ACLU says Luis Lebron, a single dad and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicant, refused to take Scott's test on the grounds that it infringed on his constitutional rights.
At the time, the Middle District of Florida agreed that the government isn't allowed to just demand welfare recipients' blood or urine willy-nilly without a lawfully good reason and issued an injunction barring the state from enforcing the law.
"Monday's ruling was not in the TANF drug testing case," the ACLU's Baylor Johnson told New Times. "But, rather, in the challenge to Scott's executive order mandating that state employees submit to the urinalysis."
The ACLU hopes that the TANF policy will also meet an inevitable end.
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