ACLU sues Scott to overturn drug-testing of welfare recipientsby John Kennedy | September 7th, 2011
The ACLU of Florida said Wednesday it has sued the Gov. Rick Scott administration in federal court to overturn the state’s new law requiring mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients.
The lawsuit was filed in Orlando on behalf of Luis Lebron, a 35-year-old Orlando man, Navy veteran and University of Central Florida student. Lebron and his four-year-old son were declared eligible for benefits through the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but Lebron refused to take the required drug test and has not received aid.
“It is a public policy that really rests on ugly stereotypes,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida ACLU.
Florida’s new law took effect July 1. Since then, the state’s Department of Children & Families reports that about 2.5 percent of applicants have tested positive for drugs and were denied personal benefits, although their family members still qualify.
But in its lawsuit, the ACLU maintains the requirement violates constitutional safeguards against unreasonable search and seizure by the government. The only other state to implement a similar policy, Michigan, had its drug-testing law overturned a decade ago, according to ACLU attorneys.
DCF Secretary David Wilkins, a Scott appointee, is named as defendant in the lawsuit.
The ACLU earlier sued Scott over his executive order requiring drug-testing of all new state hires and random screening of current state employees. Scott suspended the order in May for agencies other than the Department of Corrections, although he insisted the freeze would only be in place until the lawsuit was decided.