Rick Scott's State Employee Drug Testing Ruled Unconstitutional
Fire up those spliffs, DMV workers of Florida: A Miami federal judge has ruled that Gov. Rick Scott's plan to randomly drug test all state employees is unconstitutional. Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled today that random tests of 85,000 state employees would be an unreasonable search and seizure and issued a permanent injunction against the order.
Scott had already halted the plan after the ACLU and other groups sued, but Ungaro's order could still impact a different attempt to authorize random drug tests signed by Scott last month.
Scott promised to appeal the ruling. He issued this statement about the judgment (via CNN):
"As I have repeatedly explained, I believe that drug testing state employees is a common-sense means of ensuring a safe, efficient and productive workforce. That is why so many private employers drug test, and why the public and Florida's taxpayers overwhelmingly support this policy. I respectfully disagree with the court's ruling."
But Ungaro notes that some departments within Florida that did random drug tests for more than three years found less than one percent of employees failed. That's a strong argument that putting the other 99 percent through drug tests is unconstitutional, she says.
"The fundamental flaw of the (executive order) is that it infringes privacy interests in pursuit of a public interest which ... is insubstantial and largely speculative," the judge writes, according to CNN . "The privacy interests infringed upon here outweigh the public interest sought. That is a fatal mix under the prevailing precedents."
Scott campaigned on the idea of drug testing pretty much anyone he could, but those policies have been spectacular failures so far.
His plan to drug test welfare recipients lasted all of four months before a court struck down the initiative; a more recent study showed the state spent more than $100,000 just to catch a tiny percentage of drug-test flunkers .
(Though the plan did spark a pretty great Daily Show sketch , so perhaps it was worthwhile.)
Scott signed a new attempt to drug test employees into law last month , but that plan is also likely to be challenged in court.
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