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Federal judge blocks Fla. welfare drug test law

By Jon Byington

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 25 2011 9:50 a.m. MDT

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Florida law that requires welfare applicants to submit to a drug test before receiving benefits, ruling that it may violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, the Associated Press reported.

Judge Mary Scriven ruled that the plaintiff, Luis Lebron, a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father, has a good chance of winning the case because the Fourth Amendment protects individuals from being unfairly searched, according to the article. She further wrote that the drug tests can reveal private medical facts about the individual and do not have the same confidentiality requirements as medical records which means results could be shared with law enforcement.

"This potential interception of positive drug tests by law enforcement implicates a 'far more substantial' invasion of privacy than in ordinary civil drug testing cases," said Scriven, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.

More than 24 states have also proposed drug-testing recipients, who apply for various types of government assistance, but Florida is the first state to enact a law in more than a decade and the judge’s ruling will set a legal precedent for other cases, according to the Associated Press.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott supports the measure and is evaluating his options regarding when to appeal.

"Drug testing welfare recipients is just a common-sense way to ensure that welfare dollars are used to help children and get parents back to work," Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Scott, told the Associated Press.

Jon Byington is the founder of DosLives.com, a news and entertainment website that reaches the growing number of Latinos in the U.S.

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