Freedom’s Just Another Word For Peeing in a Cup

The Tea Party promised freedom from government but it hasn’t exactly delivered on its promise.  Tea Party favorite Rick Scott, Governor of Florida, wanted to require all welfare recipients in the state to submit urine samples to make sure they weren’t abusing drugs (presumably because, in his mind, if you’re on welfare you’re likely a drug addict).  Turns out there’s a little problem with that plan, and it’s called the United States Constitution:

In a blistering 37-page opinion (PDF) issued late Monday night, federal court Judge Mary Scriven put a halt to the tea-party Republican’s marquee plan, concluding that “the wholesale, suspicionless drug testing of all applicants” for Florida’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) constituted an unreasonable search in violation of the 4th Amendment. It’s just the latest setback for Scott, who’s recently come under fire for pooh-poohing non-business majors, collecting cut-rate health insurance, cutting support to the disabled, building himself a military hall-of-fame, and imploding on a live cable news show.

“Though the State speaks in generalities about the ‘public health risk, as well as the crime risk, associated with drugs’ being ‘beyond dispute,’ it provides no concrete evidence that those risks are any more present in TANF applicants than in the greater population,” Scriven wrote in her ruling against Florida’s government. “It is not enough to simply recite a governmental interest without any evidence of a concrete threat that would be mitigated through drug testing.”

The state ACLU and the Florida Justice Institute filed the suit on behalf of one Luis Lebron, who refused to pay for the $10-to-$82 urinalysis that would have proven that he was drug-free.

The Tea Party never believed in individual freedom – it believed in the freedom of a certain subset of individuals (aka the Tea Party) to legislate their interests/beliefs on the rest of us.

This entry was posted in News and Current Events and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Freedom’s Just Another Word For Peeing in a Cup

  1. Pino says:

    to make sure they weren’t abusing drugs

    My first complaint against the whole thing is that I feel most drugs should be legal.

    presumably because, in his mind, if you’re on welfare you’re likely a drug addict

    Perhaps. But I suspect that it has more to do with the Governor not wanting the people’s money to be used for such activities.

    The Tea Party never believed in individual freedom – it believed in the freedom of a certain subset of individuals (aka the Tea Party) to legislate their interests/beliefs on the rest of us.

    Friends and I were talking about this just Tuesday night. I’m very uncomfortable with this process. Again, I think the drugs should be legal. Second, they make no mention of trying to stop other poor decision making that would result in the spending of the money. Things like:

    - Buying beer.
    - Going to a strip club.
    - Buying Green Bay Packer swag.

    I tended to agree with my OWS friend, yes, he “Occupies” every night, sometimes staying through the night until he goes to work in the morning. Bless his silly soul. However, over the next two days, I’ve thought about it.

    In the same way that the government can prevent target shooting on Federal land, drivers younger than 15 from driving on Federal roads and people fro wearing ball caps in government courtrooms, I think that the government can make decisions about who it gives money to. For example, the government decides, using drug tests, who it gives jobs to. Why would it not be allowed to make the same decision, based on the same criteria, for money.

    And this illegal search language? The government doesn’t seem to be rounding people up and searching them. Rather, they are saying, “If you come to me looking for money, you have to prove “need” and you have to prove “worthiness”.”

    We don’t consider it illegal search when the government asks the individual to provide income statements to prove need, why should it be illegal search if the government wants to prove “worthiness”? If you don’t wanna be search, you may choose, freely, not to be. And go your merry way.

    • dedc79 says:

      Because the government is infringing on the 4th amendment (drug tests are considered a search for the purposes of this analysis) they have to put forward a compelling public interest that warrants this infringement. The court found Florida’s explanation of this interest in part because the State failed to show that applicants to this program are more likely to abuse drugs. In contrast, courts permit states to require drug testing for convicts or people on patrol for drug offenses because at that point the state has reason to believe that drug abuse is occurring.

      There is something very coercive about holding out assistance to those in need but premising that assistance on the results of blood work.

      One other point, the mere fact that a person is an addict shouldn’t, in my mind, disqualify them from getting assistance either. Drug addicts need a place to live and food to eat. They may have children to care for as well. I think the answer isn’t necessary to withhold financial aid on the chance they may use it in part to buy drugs.

      • Pino says:

        Because the government is infringing on the 4th amendment (drug tests are considered a search for the purposes of this analysis) they have to put forward a compelling public interest that warrants this infringement.

        How does the State get around this interpretation for job applicants?

        There is something very coercive about holding out assistance to those in need but premising that assistance on the results of blood work.

        I agree with you.

        One other point, the mere fact that a person is an addict shouldn’t, in my mind, disqualify them from getting assistance either. Drug addicts need a place to live and food to eat. They may have children to care for as well.

        All true.

        Would you feel different if the state required substance abuse treatment in addition to the money?

        • dedc79 says:

          I think the State gets around it for job applicants because they have an interest in ensuring that people who are trusted with state business aren’t doing drugs. Also, I think there’s a bit of a difference in degrees of coercion between requiring it for a person applying for welfare versus a person applying for a job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge