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Lawsuit Challenges Florida Law Requiring Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients


A lawsuit filed this week challenges Florida’s new law that requires welfare recipients to pass a drug test. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and a Navy veteran, the Miami Herald reports. The lawsuit asserts the law’s drug-testing requirement represents an unconstitutional search and seizure.

The veteran, Luis Lebron, is a University of Central Florida student who cares for his son and disabled mother, and receives welfare. “I served my country, I’m in school finishing my education and trying to take care of my son,” Lebron said in an ACLU news release. “It’s insulting and degrading that people think I’m using drugs just because I need a little help to take care of my family while I finish up my education.”

The Florida law, which took effect July 1, requires applicants to be responsible for the cost of the screening. They can recover the costs if they qualify for assistance. Under the law, applicants who fail the drug screen can designate another person to receive the benefits on behalf of their children.

11 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Gavin
    Gavin / June 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    I see no problem here. It’s got nothing to with civil liberties, it’s abotu common sense. I am from Australia and god know’s we need logic like this here. One step in the right direction for America I say!

  2. Avatar of FloridaWorkingMan
    FloridaWorkingMan / October 14, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Get a grip people! If I have to pass a drug test to work my job and pay the taxes that help support welfare recipients, then those who receive those benefits should have to meet the same criteria. And those who complain about unreasonable search and seizure and violating another’s rights…I don’t recall anything in the constitution that mandates a welfare program. Regarding Social Security, in theory it should meet the same criteria, but in reality, people (most of them anyway) who receive those benefits have paid into that during their working lives. I worked summers as a teenager in the 70′s and they took out Social Security deductions from my check at 14 years of age. If yo don’t pass the test, you should not receive benefits. No martyrs, no whiners and no druggies.

  3. Avatar of grasshopper
    grasshopper / September 26, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    It should not be degrading at all to him. If he is drug free, it should be no problem at all to take the drug test, pass, and continue to receive welfare. This test is just to keep the unworthies in their place. I would be ecstatic to take a drug test to receive welfare if I should need it. This way, the people that truly deserve it are not taken advantage of by those who don’t.

  4. notwhatyouthink / September 13, 2011 at 9:14 am

    The thing that bothers me about this is the governor’s wife owns the drug testing company. I am the last person to condone drug use, but welfare involves children who will be punished because of their parent’s actions, which is not right. The harder we make these children’s’ life the more problems we will be deal with in the future with angry, disenfranchised, dysfunctional adults. Why do we always take our inability and helplessness to fix a problem and turn it into let punish them attitude? Why do we always approach things as though they fit in some neat category? Everyone who test positive for a drug may not automatically be a drug addict spending every cent on drugs. Just because the cat has kittens in the oven don’t make them biscuits.

  5. formeralkie / September 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Man, the ACLU has just hit an all time new low….I can sum this whole thing up with one sentence…”If your not doing anything wrong, (drugs, that is), than you have nothing to worry about.” Stop your wine-ing!

  6. john / September 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    We used to have this in San Diego County until the ACLU and Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) filed suit. Our program tested an individual and if they tested positive, the person was given a choice of going to treatment and recieving benifits but if they refused treatment they were refused benifits. It was very successful in helping a lot of people but DPA and the ACLU killed it. This shows that DPA only wants to legalize drugs it doesn’t care if people die.

  7. Avatar of Laurie
    Laurie / September 8, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    I am a substance abuse counselor and also teach a 2 year associates degree progam in Chemical Dependency Counseling. I agree that recipients of any public assistance should be willing to submit to a drug screen since they are asking for tax payer dollars to help support them and we do not want those tax payer dollars to support alcohol and drug addictions. If I have to submit to a drug screen every time I seek employment how is this different than someone asking for public assistance. It is not a violation of my privacy to have a prospective employer to ask for a drug screen prior to offering me employment so how is this a violation of a persons privacy seeking public assistance. I have had far to many clients I have worked with over the years flat out abuse public assistance and spend every penny on alcohol and drugs and neglect their children. I would like to see a component in place that will help the person testing positive to be fully assessed and receive substance abuse treatment if needed.

  8. Avatar of Cheryl Wilson
    Cheryl Wilson / September 8, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Why are there always people that have to put a “martyr” spin on regulations or requirements put in place to assist with weeding out ABUSERS of government welfare/support programs? If I was receiving benefits I WOULD BE GLAD to comply to this new guideline as it is the BEST INTEREST OF EVERYONE. If you don’t like the “rule” then you don’t have to submit to the test, therefore no benefits. Pretty simple choice – anyway it’s not like “certain people” are being profiled and asked to submit to the test – it is a blanket requirement. Why wouldn’t a REASONABLE person see this as good thing rather than as some unconstitutional stripping of rights – let’s talk about searches at the airport – there’s something to get upset about.

  9. Avatar of Sandra Lea Barr
    Sandra Lea Barr / September 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Well stated, Cheryl well stated! I hope more states take the initiative and follow Florida’s example.

  10. Joshua / September 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    it is exactly like “certain people” profiled and asked to submit to the test. unless welfare benefits are being given out to rich or middle class people in florida now. and, as welfare recipients typically use drugs at a lower rate than the general population, it is clearly designed only to punish the poor, rather than stop a rampant problem.

  11. Avatar of ben friedman
    ben friedman / September 30, 2011 at 9:16 am

    It amazes me how people can ignore the constitution on a whim. The fourth amendment bars unreasonable searches and seizure without probable cause. Should social security receipants be drug tested? How about state legislators or disabled vets? All receive goverment funds. This is simply a bully tactic by a governor pandering to common prejudice. The state will spend more on testing and defending an unwinnable lawsuit than anything else

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