Florida Drug Testing Plan Unconstitutional

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s obsession with drug testing everyone under the sun has run into another judicial snag. A federal judge struck down a law requiring drug testing for all state employees, concluding — quite rightly — that such testing can only be done based on individualized suspicion:

In a 37-page opinion (PDF), U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled that Scott’s executive order for blanket testing of 85,000 state employees violated the ban on unreasonable search and seizures.

“The Supreme Court maintains that the government, unlike private employers, can test its employees for illegal drug use only when the testing is consistent with the Fourth Amendment,” Ungaro wrote.

“To be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, a search ordinarily must be based on individualized suspicion of wrongdoing,” the judge added. “The privacy interests infringed upon here outweigh the public interest sought. That is a fatal mix under the prevailing precedents.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLUFL), which challenged the executive order on behalf of two labor unions, hailed the judge’s ruling.

“The Governor can’t order the state to search people’s bodily fluids for no reason – the Constitution prohibits that sort of government intrusion,” ACLUFL Executive Director Howard Simon said in a press advisory. “And the Governor can’t demand that people surrender their constitutional rights for the privilege of working for the state or receiving some other government benefit.”

You can read the full ruling here. His plan to drug test all welfare recipients was also struck down last fall.

13 comments on this post.
  1. Snoof:

    Well, that’s a sane and reasonable decision.

    When’s the appeal?

  2. The Lorax:

    Snoof, appeals don’t work anymore. But re-submitting the bill a year later with slightly different wording and a new name works every time. *coughcispacough*

  3. Skip White:

    One can only conclude at this point that Gov. Rick Scott would test positive for multiple illicit substances if he were to submit to such a test. That, or his obsession with bodily fluids is a truly patriotic move to save us from 1950′s Communists.

  4. slc1:

    Just as a matter of information, did the law include drug testing for the governor and all state legislators?

  5. gvlgeologist:

    Just as a matter of information, did the law include drug testing for the governor and all state legislators?

    Of course not. They are valued, honest state workers. You need to test those other freeloading state workers and the liberal educators, though.

  6. Vall:

    Someone should test the Governor for drug testing company ownership residue. This guy really has a one track mind.

  7. erichoug:

    Can we just stop with the war on drugs, PLEASE! it is so pathetic that it really just needs to end. And this is from someone who has never taken drugs in his life. Let’s say you do test a state employee and find out (GASP!) that he smokes weed at night after work. So what!? he comes to work on time, well groomed, well rested, ready to do his job and contribute to society. So long as he isn’t high during business hours or while driving. WHO FUCKING CARES!!!!!!

    Let’s say the cops are walking down the street and spot said worker smoking a joint with his supplier. He gets arrested and has just enough weed in his newly bought baggy to count as a felony. So, he gets 6 months in the state pen, at a HUGE cost to taxpayers, then he loses his job, can’t find another midddle class job so he ends up working low paying, low status jobs that don’t pay much and is more likely to end up on some sort of state assistance as are his wife and kids. Keep in mind that many taxes are based on income, so his lower income DIRECTLY affects the amount of money you and I have to pay into the system. As does his need for assistance.

    If the war on drugs doesn’t piss you off, it should. Even if you are heavily against drugs and want to keep your little Timmy away from drugs the war on drugs should piss you off. In the decades long war, little Timmy is MORE likely to try drugs now than he was even during the 60′s. If he does start taking drugs he is LESS likely to get any sort of treatment than he was 20 years ago. And the real pisser is that many localities have enjoyed a high degree of success keeping alcohol and cigarrettes away from minors. Why? because they are taxed and regulated and the penalties for giving alcohol to minors is so high that no reasonable seller is willing to risk it.

    It’s time for this idiotic war to end.

  8. spamamander, hellmart survivor:

    Actually, the man in your scenario probably can’t even get a low-paying job, since minimum-wage employers are the most likely to demand drug screening as a condition of an offer of employment. So what does our guy do? He ends up turning to REAL crime to support himself.

    All of the jobs I have had in the last 15 or so years have required a drug test before an official hire, and in the case of being a cashier, a credit check. (‘Cause If I’m poor I’m more likely to steal, or something. Never mind I want the job to actually pay my bills.)

  9. d cwilson:

    One can only conclude at this point that Gov. Rick Scott would test positive for multiple illicit substances if he were to submit to such a test.

    Unfortunately, scientists have yet to discover a test for exposure to his Precious.

    http://blog.reidreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/scott-gollum.png

  10. MikeMa:

    Several other states are considering wide net drug testing. South Carolina is one. Do they respond logically to the (un)constitutional ruling and quash these efforts or plow ahead hoping for a sympathetic judge?

    Most of these bills are raised as a way to save money, a result which they do not accomplish, and the legal challenges end up costing money, a net loss in many cases. How will Scott (FL) and Haley(SC) spin that one has to wonder?

  11. Vall:

    @MikeMa
    “Most of these bills are raised as a way to save money, a result which they do not accomplish, and the legal challenges end up costing money, a net loss in many cases. How will Scott (FL) and Haley(SC) spin that one has to wonder?”

    When this happens over and over, similar to Board of Education shenanigans, it makes me wonder if breaking the system is the goal. Like spoiled children that can’t play with a favorite toy, let’s break it so nobody gets it.

  12. mudskipper:

    Someone should test the Governor for drug testing company ownership residue. This guy really has a one track mind.

    Somebody already has. The results were positive:

    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/money/gov-rick-scotts-drug-testing-policy-stirs-suspicion-1350922.html

  13. kermit.:

    erichoug: It’s time for this idiotic war to end.

    But what would the DEA do? And everyone who works for the the drug testing companies (many of which are set up to do nothing else)?

    MikeMA: Most of these bills are raised as a way to save money, a result which they do not accomplish, and the legal challenges end up costing money, a net loss in many cases. How will Scott (FL) and Haley(SC) spin that one has to wonder?

    Blame it on the liberals, of course. It would have saved money but for those liberal lawyers. When they’re not suing McDonald’s, they’re appealing to the higher courts. That or writing laws which force Good Americans to challenge and appeal if necessary.

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