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Eleventh Circuit Hears Appeal In Florida's Welfare Drug Testing Case

The Scott administration has pushed hard for a policy of drug testing welfare recipients.
Micah Baldwin

  A plan for drug testing welfare recipients in Florida came before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals this week.  The American Civil Liberties Union is looking to the Fourth Amendment to challenge the policy.

The 2011 law required applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, program to submit to drug testing in order to collect their benefits.  But ACLU of Florida attorney Maria Kayanan says this violates the constitution’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

“A urinalysis conducted by the government is a search,” Kayanan says, “and a search has to be reasonable, and to be reasonable the search has to be supported by individualized suspicion or probable cause.”

A district court overturned the law in 2013.  Scott’s press secretary John Tupps issued a statement on the appeal.

“We should have a zero tolerance policy for illegal drug use in families – especially those families who struggle to make ends meet and need welfare assistance to provide for their children,” Tupps says.

The administration did not address the case’s constitutional implications.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.