Court Blocks Law Requiring Drug Tests for Aid Seekers in Florida

Gov. Rick Scott says he will appeal the court's decision.

Posted: 02/28/2013 11:00 AM EST

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A Florida law requiring all adults applying for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to undergo drug testing was overturned by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Tuesday.

The court decided the state did not provide any evidence of “substantial special need” in testing when there was no evidence that an aid seeker was using drugs. The state law was temporarily blocked by a federal court in Florida in 2011.

Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the drug testing law, says he will appeal the court's decision to uphold it and will take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The Palm Beach Post reports:

Scott’s lawyers argued that drug-testing applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, pushed by the governor in his first year in office, is crucial to ensure the well-being of children whose parents are receiving the public aid.

But “the simple fact of seeking public assistance does not deprive a TANF applicant of the same constitutional protection from unreasonable searches that all other citizens enjoy,” wrote Judge Rosemary Barkett in a 38-page opinion.

Scott’s administration “failed to offer any factual support or to present any empirical evidence of a ‘concrete danger’ of illegal drug use within Florida’s TANF population,” Barkett wrote. “The state has presented no evidence that simply because an applicant for TANF benefits is having financial problems, he is also drug-addicted or prone to fraudulent and neglectful behavior.”

Scott, who campaigned for governor on the issue, immediately issued a statement calling the ruling “disturbing” and pledging to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Scott’s lawyers argued that since private businesses commonly require that job applicants be tested, the tests are needed to ensure that TANF recipients, who must seek employment as a condition of the aid, can get jobs.

Read the full story here.

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