« Golden Bear to raise campaign gold for Gov. Scott | Main | UPDATED Suspended Miami Lakes mayor makes no mention of arrest in end-of-year email »

Scott vows to appeal latest ruling on drug tests for TANF


The U.S. District Court handed Gov. Rick Scott a defeat on Dec. 31 when it struck down a law requiring drug screening of welfare recipients unconstitutional.

Middle District of Florida Judge Mary Scriven granted summary judgment on behalf of Luis Lebron, who at the outset of the 2011 case was a 35-year-old Navy veteran, college student and single father from Orlando. Lebron refused to submit to a drug test arguing that requiring him to pay for and submit to one is unreasonable when there is no reason to believe he uses drugs. Lebron was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

Scott’s 2010 campaign promise to enact the drug tests is one of dozens of promises PolitiFact Florida is tracking on our Scott-O-Meter. On Friday Scott announced he will appeal to the 11th Circuit.

Scott signed a law in 2011 to drug test recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. But the court issued a preliminary injunction a few months later.

While the law was in effect from July through October 2011, about 2.6 percent -- or 108 of 4,046 people -- tested positive for drugs, the most common being marijuana.

 The state continued to argue that it warranted an exception to the Fourth Amendment to ensure TANF participants’ job readiness, to meet child-welfare goals and to ensure that public funds are properly used.

But in the Dec. 31 ruling, the court agreed with the 11th Circuit’s conclusion that “There 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 only known and shared characteristic of the individuals who would be subjected to Florida’s mandatory drug testing program is that they are financially needy families with children. Yet, there is nothing inherent in the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a concrete danger that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use or that should drug use occur, that the lives of TANF recipients are fraught with such risks of injury to others that even a momentary lapse of attention can have disastrous consequences.”

A 1998 study by the Department of Children and Families found researchers found a lower rate of drug usage among TANF applicants than the state’s population as a whole.

“This would suggest that TANF funds are no more likely to be diverted to drug use or used in a manner that would expose children to drugs or affect “family stability” than funds provided to any other recipient of government benefits,” Scriven wrote.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


First drug test the Governor and the Legislators. They divert more tax dollars to their own use than welfare recipients. If it would exclude them from holding office then we wouldn't have any more stupid laws about baggy pants, privatizing prisons, and passing on much needed federal dollars. Also drug test Ed Jenkins. He is not getting enough or way too much.

ed jenkins

As we have seen, the citizens do not want funds confiscated from them for people who have no shame and mooch off their neighbors. For those that are truly unfortunate and by that the citizens do not consider poor budgeting, spending large amounts of money on extravagant meals, expensive cars or houses, charities exist in our generous state to help them out.

If the citizens funds have to be confiscated they in no way want those funds going towards funding the abuse of illegal drugs. That is why the citizens although initially skeptical of the political novice scott have been won over by his care over their funds and making sure they are not wasted on illegal drugs. We would recommend that our governor ignore this judge who believes the constitution says drug users may have money confiscated on their behalf by the government for the purchase of their drugs as a sane appellate level judge can eventually be found to reverse this nonsense.

tony smith

He's appealing a case TO THE 11TH CIRCUIT -- which already held that these laws are unconstitutional! That's a bigger waste of taxpayer money. It costs a lot of money to litigate cases -- even if your arguments are frivolous. A fearless court would impose sanctions.

Ed Jenkins probably does more drugs than any person on the Earth.....Judging from his daily conservative drivel.


On behalf of the trial lawyers of florida, we wish to thank Governor $cott for all the business you've provided us the last 3 years. Our volume of cases has soared thanks to you. Keep signing those kooky unconstitutional bills so we can have them knocked down in court. Now I know what Miguel Cabrera feels like when he sees a fastball straight down the middle of the plate.

j solis

" ... researchers found a lower rate of drug usage among TANF applicants than the state’s population as a whole."

When you give them FREE money, they have time & money to use drugs.

tony smith

J Solis: Apparently, you had a bit too much to drink at the New Years Eve parties.Your post is about as dumb as it gets. Nutty. Can you read?

ed jenkins

As some wise commentators have pointed out flawed research studies do not take into account that these welfare applicants don't have money to buy drugs so obviously their drug abuse would be lower before receiving their payments. However the citizens do not want this drug abuse going on in their state and they especially do not want to pay people to sit on their couch and use these drugs rather than having them be productive working members of society so they applaud the governor for these efforts and recommend he ignore this erroneous decision by this immoral judge.

tony smith

Ed - you describing someone as "wise" is really too much to bear.

Idiot - the fear is that people receiving welfare are using the benefits to buy drugs. But, studies show that people WHO ALREADY RECEIVE BENEFITS are not using drugs at the rate higher than the rest of the population. So, they have already taken into consideration the level of wealth. Also, people can get drugs from other sources than welfare money. A positive test for marijuana could result from a friend giving an individual marijuana. If you are as antigovernment as you pretend to be, you would understand that. But you are a looney.


What happened to Governor Scott claiming to want less government intrusion? Oh yeah that would mean to let corporations to get welfare, have zero regulations, destroy our environment, and persecute the poor and needy. The little person in this administration's eyes are worthless.

I believe we need to stamp out welfare fraud but drug testing is not the way to do it. Rick Scott is a very scary dude who has no conception of our constitutional rights. Oh let's not forget how his family own's drug testing facilities.

ed jenkins

Unfortunately some are not as commentators such as Solis which is why commentators such as this one are here to help those who take some time to understand things. It is easy to misunderstand things read quickly so this is not to criticize but it is important to focus on the capitalized word applicants meaning those not having the welfare payments yet but applying for them:

A 1998 study by the Department of Children and Families found researchers found a lower rate of drug usage among TANF APPLICANTS than the state’s population as a whole.

Using this information we are able to conclude nothing about the drug abuse of applicants in the future once they get the welfare money which was confiscated from hardworking citizens. For this money the least the citizens would require is that the recipient not use the confiscated money to support drug habits and the citizens are quite happy to see they have a governor making sure of that along with his other excellent fiscal management. But overall the citizens wish to get rid of these welfare payments entirely as charities are available for the truly unfortunate and what is meant by unfortunate is not poor budgeting, spending large amounts of money on extravagant meals, luxury cars or homes and especially not for the abuse of illegal drugs.

Randall McMurphy

Governor Scott continuing to "fight the good fight..." or is he just pursuing this case to line his own pockets via Solantic...

Indie Thinker

Note to all: Ed Jenkins is a parody. Don't take him seriously.


The same people who uphold 2nd amendment rights seem to be so quick to throw away 4th amendment rights.

Drug testing - without permission or probable cause - is unconstitutional. It's an illegal search. As several commenters above correctly noted, Scott taking this to a higher court is a huge waste of our money and if he prevailed would lead to expanded government spending (health records, HIPPA laws, etc.).

John Lentini

Scott is once again wasting taxpayer dollars on an appeal to a Court that has already struck down this unconstitutional law. The trial court judge who threw this law out a second time quoted heavily from the 11th Circuit's last ruling. Scott has to know he is going to lose. He is wasting our money pandering to his pinheaded base.

The comments to this entry are closed.