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State gets two weeks to respond to ACLU-backed lawsuit over drug testing of welfare recipients

An Orlando judge on Monday heard arguments in a lawsuit against the state over its mandated drug-testing policy for welfare applicants and declined to issue an immediate injunction that would block the new law.


U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven took the motion under advisement and gave attorneys for the Department of Children and Families, the agency that administers Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, 14 days to respond to whether plaintiff Luis Lebron can represent other TANF recipients as a class.

We told you about the lawsuit and Lebron, a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who cares for his 4-year-old son and disabled mother, in this story. Lebron filed suit Sept. 7.

The ACLU argues that the drug-testing policy constitutes a suspicionless search and seizure and should be struck down.

"The governor and the Legislature sent their lawyers into court today to advance a very startling proposition," said ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon in a statement. "They argue that some Floridians, namely poor families with children who qualify for temporary public assistance, are not protected by the Constitution of the United States."

Gov. Rick Scott championed the law, saying at one point it "is for the benefit of children." And about 70 percent of Florida voters support the policy, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week.

Scriven can rule on the motion for an immediate injunction before the state's two-week extension is up, reported the News Service of Florida.

About 2.5 percent of all applicants have failed the test so far.