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DCF advances legal push for drug-testing welfare applicants

Florida’s Department of Children and Families furthered its legal push for drug-testing welfare applicants this week, asking for a federal judge to grant a motion of summary judgment in favor of the program.

A federal judge put a hold on the program last year after a University of Central Florida student sued the state, calling the law unconstitutional. The judge indicated that the student, Luis Lebron, had a good chance of winning his case based on the Fourth Amendment.

The law has not been enforced since that injunction, but DCF wants a judge to move forward and make a ruling. Gov. Rick Scott has advocated for the practice, as well as drug-testing state workers.

In its motion for summary judgment, the state argued that drug testing for welfare applicants should be found legal based on several grounds, including:

  •  Consent to drug test is voluntary, and applicants are not forced to undergo the urinalysis. The drug test is only required if people want to receive government benefits.
  • The state has a “special need” to conduct the “search,”
  • Drug use is an impediment to gaining and keeping employment
  • The reasonable expectations of privacy are “sharply reduced” due to the fact that this is a government program

 You can read the full motion for summary judgment, which includes other arguments, here: