A federal judge in Orlando on Monday temporarily blocked Florida’s controversial law requiring welfare applicants be drug tested in order to receive benefits.
Judge Mary Scriven issued a temporary injunction against the state, writing in a 37-page order that the law could violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on illegal search and seizure.
“The constitutional rights of a class of citizen are at stake,” Scriven wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state last month on behalf of Luis Lebron, a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father from Orlando who is finishing his college degree.
Lebron met all the criteria for receiving welfare, but refused to submit to a drug test on the grounds that requiring him to pay for and submit to one is unreasonable when there is no reason to believe he uses drugs.
Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the measure into law on May 31, touted it as a way to ensure taxpayer money isn’t “wasted” on those who use drugs. “Hopefully more people will focus on not using illegal drugs,” he said then.
But, in her order, Scriven issued a scathing assessment of the state’s argument in favor of the drug tests, saying the state failed to prove “special needs” as to why it should conduct such searches without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, as the law requires.