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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 05:07 PM

Federal Appeals Court: No Suspicionless Welfare Drug Tests

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

11th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Fourth Amendment Challenge to Florida’s Suspicionless Drug Testing Program

Drug Policy Alliance filed Amicus Brief Challenging Random Drug Testing Program

Today, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Lebron v. Secretary, Florida Department of Children and Families, upheld a preliminary injunction that halted Florida’s law requiring drug testing of public assistance applicants as a condition of receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”).

Florida’s drug testing law was challenged by Navy veteran, single father and University of Central Florida student Luis LeBron who applied for TANF but refused to be drug tested. His challenge led to a federal trial court order halting the law from taking effect on the grounds that it likely violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision.

“The 11th Circuit’s decision deals a devastating blow to any state’s attempt to impose suspicionless drug testing as a condition of receiving governmental benefits” says Daniel Abrahamson, director of Legal Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. “We hope that lawmakers will choose to honor the constitution rather than scapegoat poor people in efforts to address perceived drug problems.”

The Drug Policy Alliance -- together with American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, Physicians and Lawyers for National Drug Policy, the Legal Action Center, Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, National Employment Law Project, Child Welfare Organizing Project, and National Advocates for Pregnant Women -- filed an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in the case challenging the random drug testing program. The brief exposed as baseless a key assumption underlining Florida’s law - that persons in need for financial assistance are more likely to use and abuse illicit drugs than other segments of the population. The brief argued that Florida’s drug testing scheme does not achieve any of its purported goals of protecting the well-being of children, promoting the employability of person on public assistance and assuring fiscal integrity, and does not pass the “special needs” test that is required to justify otherwise unconstitutional searches by government officials.

The court found that the state of Florida “presented no empirical evidence to bolster its special needs argument that suspicionless drug testing of TANF applicants is in any way warranted.” Further it stated, “here is nothing so special or immediate about the government’s interest in ensuring that TANF recipients are drug free so as to warrant suspension of the Fourth Amendment.”

The case is Lebron v. Secretary, Florida Department of Children and Families, Case No. 11-15258; http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/201115258.pdf

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Reply Federal Appeals Court: No Suspicionless Welfare Drug Tests (Original post)
Comrade Grumpy Feb 2013 OP
Comrade Grumpy Feb 2013 #1
AnotherMcIntosh Feb 2013 #2
BlueJazz Feb 2013 #3

Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 05:11 PM

1. A good and not unexpected decision.

This is just hate on the poor bullshit that is not in any way justified.

But state legislatures are trying to get around it by adding "reasonable suspicion" language, instead of the mandatory, suspicionless language in the Florida law (and in Georgia's law, which is now also defunct).

One of those bills passed the House in Indiana yesterday, even though legislative fiscal analysts said it would be a net loser for the state, costing taxpyers more than a million a year. So, why, fiscal conservative Republicans, would you be voting for this? Why?

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 06:02 PM

2. Interesting case, and a court may ultimately rule in a manner sought by the author of the

 

press release.

Daniel Abrahamson's made an overstatement when he said
"The 11th Circuit’s decision deals a devastating blow to any state’s attempt to impose suspicionless drug testing as a condition of receiving governmental benefits."

The 11th Circuit ruling is a limited one. The court did not go as far as Mr. Abrahamson indicates:
"Because we conclude that the State has failed to establish a substantial special need to support its mandatory suspicionless drug testing of TANF recipients, the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the preliminary injunction enjoining the State from enforcing § 414.0652, Fla. Stat."

Judge Jordan explained in his concurring opinion:
"We are not making any definitive legal pronouncements about the ultimate constitutionality of Fla. Stat. § 414.0652. We are reviewing the grant of a preliminary injunction on an undeveloped record, and therefore are considering only the district court’s determination that Mr. Lebron is likely to succeed on the merits of his Fourth Amendment claim."

Judge Jordan also noted:
"In my view the doctrine of unconstitutional conditions is somewhat incoherent, and some of the cases decided under it are difficult to reconcile. See generally Kathleen M. Sullivan, Unconstitutional Conditions, 102 HARV. L. REV. 1413, 1416 (1989) (“As applied . . . the doctrine of unconstitutional conditions is riven with inconsistencies”)."


One thing that we know about lawmakers and others including some judges who prefer to scapegoat poor people, instead of honoring the Constitution, is that they are a persistent bunch.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 06:26 PM

3. Excellent. The powers-that-be make sure the wealthy get plenty of free stuff from society..

...but give the poor a little taste of the pie ??...NOOOOOO

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