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Federal judge strikes down Fla. law requiring drug tests for welfare

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A federal judge struck down a Florida law requiring those seeking public assistance to pass a drug test.

gavel pillsJudge Mary S. Scriven of the U.S. District Court in Orlando ruled Tuesday that the testing requirement violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, according to The New York Times.

“The court finds there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied,” Scriven wrote.

The judge had earlier issued a temporary restraining order against the state implementing the law. Her new ruling makes the ban permanent.

The case was being closely monitored by several other states after Florida passed the legislation in 2011. Florida’s rationale was best expressed by Gov. Rick Scott.

“Any illegal drug use in a family is harmful and even abusive to a child,” he said in a statement, The Times reported. “We should have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use in families — especially those families who struggle to make ends meet and need welfare assistance to provide for their children.”

At least 10 states have enacted similar measures, beginning with Arizona in 2009, and at least 29 states debated the issue in 2013.

Georgia passed a similar measure last year, but its rollout has been delayed pending the outcome of the Florida case.

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