Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two judges, two strikes against bad drug testing edicts

Just when you think there is not a shred of sanity left in how we run this state, you get a sign.

Two, even.

As Gov. Rick Scott has surely noticed, not one but two federal judges have ruled against his plans for the drug testing of two different groups of Floridians, raising questions of constitutionality.

Last year, it was a judge in Orlando issuing a temporary injunction against testing welfare applicants. This week a Miami judge flat-out ruled randomly testing state workers unconstitutional.

It's "suspicion-less drug testing," wrote U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro, which could be a succinct description of the state of government intrusion in our state.

Scott thought it a fine idea to make people who apply for a cash welfare program pee in a cup first to prove they are worthy. Also, an executive order from Scott mandates randomly testing thousands of workers whose sole crime may be being employed by the state of Florida.

That's the biggest insult here: The government does not need a shred of suspicion that someone has been using drugs. A state worker need not be driving a train or a forklift or doing any job in which safety is a concern. You get tested because the government says so, and the government knows best.

So this was the law of the land, so to speak, or at least the rules of a state with a tilted sense of priorities.

Here's the problem, besides that really big one about our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches: No one has come up with any good reason, any insidious trend or current threat, to justify it.

Plus, it's costing you. So far Floridians are on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars while these edicts have failed to ferret out any serious drug use. Only 2.6 percent of welfare applicants tested positive, and the law had no effect on how many applied. For state workers randomly tested, it was between less than 1 percent and about 2.5 percent. Both figures are less than half the estimated drug use by the general population.

Two things have always perplexed me here: the law's motivation and its support.

Since this is not about fixing anything anyone can point to, can it be about giving citizens some false sense of control over doling out money to all those druggies out there on the public dime? What an insult to our intelligence that would be.

And someone please explain how tea party types who love Gov. Scott can tolerate edicts that are the very definition of big government and needless spending — reasons the tea party was born in the first place.

So two judges have blocked two drug testing efforts, and two times the governor has vowed to appeal.

Good lawyers advise clients how likely they are to win versus the cost of trying. The cases to consider include a Georgia law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court requiring drug testing political candidates. (And really? Welfare recipients are sitting ducks, but how did lawmakers let that one pass?)

It's your money they're gambling with, not for an important public principle, but for a problem that does not exist.

If the governor needs proof that this is an unnecessary intrusion, a needless expense and an insult to the U.S. Constitution and the people of Florida, this might be a sign.

Two, if you're counting.

Two judges, two strikes against bad drug testing edicts 04/27/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 27, 2012 10:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours