Broward News

Florida's Pee-Test-the-Poor Law Temporarily Blocked by Federal Judge

It looks like Gov. Rick Scott never met a constitution he couldn't violate.

This time, it was likely the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to a federal judge who temporarily blocked the state's new welfare drug-testing law the governor loves so much.

The lawsuit over the law, filed by the ALCU on behalf of a Navy veteran, claims the testing is unconstitutional search and seizure.

Sure enough, federal judge Mary Scriven didn't disagree that it's unconstitutional search and seizure to drug-test applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program:

...[I]mposing an injunction would serve the public interest by protecting TANF applicants from the harm caused by infringement of their constitutional right, a right here that once infringed cannot be restored...Accordingly, the Court concludes that preliminarily enjoining what appears likely to be deemed to be an unconstitutional intrusion on the Fourth Amendment rights of TANF applicants serves the public interest and outweighs whatever minimal harm a preliminary injunction might visit upon the State.

The ruling made many references to the unconstitutionality of the law while methodically striking down the arguments made by the state.

Aside from debunking the math used by the state to tout its potential savings with the drug testing -- although, Scott's imaginary study on drug use wasn't addressed -- the ruling says the state failed to produce any "competent evidence" that money would be saved.

The state also tried to argue it "steps into the role of the parent" by drug-testing people with children. Not quite. Or, as the ruling says, "This contention is without merit."

The ruling goes as far to say that the Legislature voted to approve the law despite the fact that its own researchers advised that there was no "drug epidemic" among welfare recipients.

The ultimate fate of the law will likely be decided in future court battles.

Click here to read Scriven's ruling.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley