Court won't lift stay on Fla. welfare law

Feb. 27, 2013 at 6:20 PM
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ATLANTA, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court has refused Florida's request to lift a stay on Gov. Rick Scott's plan to require drug testing for all recipients of family welfare.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld the stay Tuesday imposed by a federal judge in Florida, The Miami Herald reported. The court did not rule on the constitutionality of the Florida law.

The Legislature passed the law, which requires regular drug testing for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, in 2011. Luis Lebron, a single father who had applied for aid, refused drug testing, saying it was unconstitutional, and with help from the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law.

"There is nothing so special or immediate about the government's interest in ensuring that TANF recipients are drug-free so as to warrant suspension of the Fourth Amendment," Judge Rosemary Barkett wrote in the court's opinion. "The only known and shared characteristic of the individuals who would be subjected to Florida's mandatory drug testing program is that they are financially needy families with children."

Scott said the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The court's ruling today is disturbing," he said in a statement. "Welfare is 100 percent about helping children. Welfare is taxpayer money to help people looking for jobs who have children. Drug use by anyone with children looking for a job is totally destructive. This is fundamentally about protecting the well-being of Florida families."

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