Florida Drug Testing Law Unconstitutional and Cost State More Than $45,000

| by

America is a country of paradoxes. Charity is one of the most highly-respected virtues, as long as you are not the person in need of it. Donating time or money, sacrificing anything in the spirit of helping those less fortunate is supremely admirable. Yet, often the people who will sing the praises of the charitable are the same ones who look with disdain on those who are undereducated, unemployed, or poor. They are takers and they are not to be trusted.

Case in point, the recent spate of drug-testing-for-welfare laws—most recently in Georgia—seek to make mandatory drug testing (which the applicant has to pay for) a part of the application process for benefits. By assuming that all applicants are drug addicts, the state seeks to save money by not paying benefits to those who test positive for drugs.

Only, according to The Miami Herald the policy ended up costing more than it saved. Applicants would have to pay for the drug test up-front, but if they passed the state had to reimburse them. Less than 3 percent of 4,086 applicants failed the test, and the state ultimately lost money because of those reimbursements.

This news comes on the heels of a recent ruling by a federal judge—nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush—striking down drug-testing as unconstitutional, a violation of the Fourth Amendment. In her opinion, Judge Mary Scriven writes that there are “no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”

Florida attorneys are going to appeal the decision, but with the addition of the cost-problem, one wonders how far Governor Rick Scott will go to keep the law on the books. It was a campaign issue for him and will likely surface again in this year’s election. Currently, former Republican and former Governor Charlie Crist leads Scott by seven points in a University of Florida poll