Florida Drug Testing Law Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal judge has invalidated Governor Rick Scott's executive order that state employees be tested for drugs, finding it violates constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro declared that Scott’s executive order to conduct random drug tests of 85,000 state employees amounted to an “unreasonable” search under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Her decision was based on U.S. Supreme Court precedents that have cited the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches, concluding that governments cannot require job applicants to take drug tests absent a “special need,” such as safety.

The lawsuit was brought by the The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The ACLU commented:

“If the state is going to require a drug test as a condition of keeping your job, it needs to have a reason. And simply being against drugs isn’t enough,”

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  • Display: Sort:
    Good ruling. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Doug1111 on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 10:51:44 AM EST

    Perhaps (none / 0) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 07:07:18 AM EST

    Perhaps the random drug tests the military conducts are unconstitutional as well.  The case for a constitutional difference is not obvious.

    The military is different (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Michael Masinter on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 08:51:00 AM EST
    Drug testing within the military is different from drug testing a state workforce.  First and most obviously, active duty members of the armed forces are armed for the purpose of ensuring the national defense; that makes their position a safety sensitive position for which SCOTUS has already held drug testing does not violate the fourth amendment.  Second, although members of the military do have constitutional rights, the special status of the military under the constitution curtails many of those rights in service of their constitutional responsibility.  

    A constitutional difference? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 09:49:39 AM EST

    A constitutional difference?  BTW, the most dangerous weapon at my naval reserve center was a an ancient typewriter.  Further, many if not most active duty military don't come near a weapon during a work day.

    Not to mention the general ... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Yman on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 10:11:11 AM EST
    ... principle that the differences between military service and civilian life have been held (several times) to justify a different level of constitutional protection for servicemen compared to civilians:

    While reaffirming the general principle that the members of the Armed Forces are entitled to constitutional protections, these cases stress that "the different character of the military community and of the military mission require a different application of those protections. The fundamental necessity for obedience, and the consequent necessity for imposition of discipline, may render permissible within the military that which would be constitutionally impermissible outside of it.

    See also (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:01:52 AM EST
    The marine who just got discharged for posting anti-Obama statements on his Facebook page.

    Yes - a constitutional difference (none / 0) (#7)
    by Yman on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 10:04:21 AM EST
    See Committee for GI Rights v. Callaway.

    The court laws out the reasons for the constitutionality of the military drug testing.  Namely, the administrative search exception balances the state's interest against the constitutional interest of the individual and allows for a relaxing of the fourth amendment when the state's interest is viewed to be overwhelming and/or predominant.  The court held that state's strong public interest to ensure military readiness and expediency outweighs the privacy interests of servicemen.

    "Military readiness" is not an issue with state employees in general.


    I agree. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Doug1111 on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 10:50:03 AM EST
    It Certainly Is (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 08:54:08 AM EST
    As mentioned, a reason such as safety is required.

    But I agree, drug testing should not be allowed without cause.  They can't come in my home without a warrant, yet they can analyze what I do with my body without one.  My home, according to Florida, is more sacred then my being.

    Here is where I get confused, the right, the party of personal liberty and smaller government loves the intrusiveness when its about regulating morality.  Remind me how much was this stunt going to cost the state of Florida and how was it going to be funded ?  

    Could not be taxes...


    And, (none / 0) (#13)
    by NYShooter on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:41:56 AM EST
     this is why I make an exception to my "no hating" policy. The psychopaths who dreamed up this lunacy of demanding drug tests for thousands of low level grunts tragically can't see the irony and hypocrisy of  exempting themselves.

    Makes sense, right? Test the cabin attendants, the pilots gets a pass.


    Worse... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:30:43 PM EST
    ...the pilot doesn't makes the rules.

    This is Tea Party garbage, if only one of those idiots would start figuring up how much this non-sense cost the state of Florida and put that on a sign while dressed up as Ben Franklin at an anti-tax publicity stunt.

    This was nothing more then republican failed hackery against unions.  And the dollars spent could have went to the rape crisis centers.

    Governor Rick Scott Vetoes Funds For Rape Crisis Centers During Sexual Assault Awareness Month


    The "hate" comes in (5.00 / 0) (#18)
    by NYShooter on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 07:38:25 PM EST
     because the Right wing, tea party fools will still vote for their oppressors having been brainwashed by Limbaugh and Fox that "they" are part of "them."

    I'd like to see Obama really get ballsy and say something during his campaign like, "you see what happens when we don't help our kids get a good education; they grow up watching Fox, thinking it's the news."


    Here's a discussion on that from W&M (none / 0) (#15)
    by Addison on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:23:08 PM EST
    Does the Fourth Amendment Apply to the Armed Forces?
    Fredric I. Lederer & Frederic L. Borch
    William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal
    Volume 3 | Issue 1, Article 6

    Also, the SCOTUS has ruled that, because of language in the 5th Amendment, the 6th Amendment is not wholly applicable to members of the military. This could perhaps be extended to application of the 4th, as well.


    The First Amendment... (none / 0) (#17)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:47:17 PM EST
    ...doesn't seem to apply either.

    THIS Marine criticized Obama and got discharged for it.

    HERE is the political do's and don't for military personnel.

    Seems like I remember Gates saying service members weren't allowed to express their political views.


    So the State... (none / 0) (#2)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 08:26:37 AM EST
    can still test those positions that are classified as "public safety" employees, just not blanket testing of all employees, I assume.  

    Yup (none / 0) (#4)
    by Michael Masinter on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 08:52:16 AM EST
    The state already has statutory authority not at issue in AFSCME to test safety sensitive employees and employees for which it has individualized suspicion.

    Yes, for example prison guards can still be tested (none / 0) (#14)
    by ruffian on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:55:36 AM EST
    Hip Hip Hooray... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 10:47:08 AM EST
    for the Honorable Ursula Ungaro, the ACLU, and the union!  Score a little victory for liberty and privacy.

    Now to get Governor Golden Shower down in Fla out of everybody elses p*ss...what a pervert.

    The joke's on us. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 10:13:29 AM EST
    The argument is that soldiers should be tested because of the lethality of the weapons with which they are entrusted.

    The irony is that public employees are armed with something much more dangerous:

    ... rules, bureaucracy, paperwork, and policies.