The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed suit yesterday to end the state's new controversial requirement that all people seeking help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program undergo a drug test. The law was passed earlier this year at the behest of Gov.Rick Scott, but so far only about two percent of applicants have tested positive for drugs calling into questions its fiscal sense. The ACLU also claims the law violates the U.S. Constitution.
The ACLU filed the suit in a federal court yesterday on behalf of Luis Lebron, a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who is currently finishing school at University of Central Florida. He's also the sole caregiver for his disabled mother.
Lebron applied for assistance from TANF but refused to undergo the drug test, or as the ACLU press release pointedly puts it, "refused to waive his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and submit to the newly required drug test."
"I served my country, I'm in school finishing my education and trying to take care of my son," Lebron said in the 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."
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The group points out that a similar law was struck down in Michigan back in 2000 because it violated the Fourth Amendment and hopes to see similar results in Florida.
"This law violates more than the rights guaranteed by our Constitution - it violates basic American dignity and fairness by assuming that everyone who needs help is a lazy drug abuser," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLUFL in the release. "Ugly, disproven stereotypes make bad laws."
The suit seeks to have the provisions in the law requiring drug tests to be declared unconstitutional.