ACLU sues Florida for drug testing welfare recipients
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is taking Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to court, forcing him to defend his highly controversial law requiring all welfare recipients to be screened for drugs.
The ACLU Tuesday sued the state of Florida on behalf of 35-year-old U.S. Navy veteran Luis Lebron, a single parent who lost his job in 2008 after his employer downsized.
Lebron says he does not take illegal drugs but contacted the ACLU because “it really hit hard when I had to go down there and go through this.”
“It made me feel really bad; I just felt like everything was caving in on me,” he told The Tampa Tribune.
“I felt like, I served my country for four years; doesn’t that mean anything anymore? I’ve worked for pretty good companies. I’m going to school; I’m supposed to graduate. I shouldn’t be in this position.”
The federal class-action lawsuit alleges that the law violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable search.” Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins is named as a defendant.
The ACLU has asked for an injunction to halt all drug screenings immediately.
The exact number of tests taken and their result is still being tabulated by the Department of Children and Families, but Tampa Bay Online reported that at least 1,000 tests had been taken for welfare applications between mid-July and mid-August.
Ninety-six percent of the tests were clean, two percent didn’t complete the application process for unspecified reasons and only two percent of the applicants tested positive for drug use.
In August, a WFTV investigation concluded that the law was costing more than it was saving.
— with earlier reporting by Kase Wickman