Arbitrary, mandatory drug testing is wrong, no matter when such a policy is applied. That includes mandatory drug testing for welfare applicants. Eleven states have passed some form of drug testing for welfare applicants. Florida was unique in that it didn’t have a suspicion based policy for drug testing applicants. Florida required all applicants, no matter what, to have to submit to drug testing. That policy was shot down yesterday by a federal appeals court. Per the New York Times:
A federal appeals court on Wednesday struck down a 2011 Florida law requiring drug tests for people seeking welfare benefits even if they are not suspected of drug use, a measure pushed by Gov. Rick Scott in his first term in office.
The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled that the law, one of the strictest in the country, was an unreasonable search because Florida officials had failed to show a “substantial need” to test all people who applied for welfare benefits. Applicants were required to submit to urine tests, a measure that Mr. Scott said would protect children of welfare applicants by ensuring that their parents were not buying and using drugs.
“The state has not demonstrated a more prevalent, unique or different drug problem among TANF applicants than in the general population,” the panel said in its unanimous decision, using an acronym for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
It will be interesting to see if this case gets challenged all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, and if so, how the Court rules. Will the Court rule that mandatory testing is OK? Will they say that suspicion based testing is OK, but not requiring each and every applicant to test? Or will they throw the entire concept out of the window? Only time will tell.