Thursday, June 2, 2011

Search and Seizure

In case you missed this story of smaller government and more freedom here in Florida:

Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) signed legislation into law on Tuesday that requires anyone applying for temporary government assistance to pay for and undergo drug screening.

Under the new law, applicants for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program who test positive for illegal drug use won’t be eligible to receive benefits for one year or until they successfully complete a drug abuse program. Those who don’t test positive will be reimbursed for the cost of the test.

Around 60,000 people would be affected, according to earlier reports.

“While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Scott said in a statement. “This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.”

In March, Scott also issued an executive order requiring that all state employees be subjected to urine analysis once every quarter, with random screenings throughout. The order is expected to cost Florida taxpayers over $3.5 million.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the drug testing of welfare recipients is likely unconstitutional and fiscally irresponsible. A Michigan law that required welfare recipients to receive random drug testing was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 2003. The average cost of a drug test is about $42 per person tested, not including other costs associated with administering the tests.

I wonder how long it will take for someone to sue the state for a false positive test, for violating the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure — I’m pretty sure that being unemployed is not probable cause — and I wonder much of our tax dollars will go to defend the law in court.

I also wonder how long it will take before the voters in Florida realize just what kind of a governor Mr. Scott is turning out to be. Oh, wait….