11th Circuit rules TANF drug testing unconstitutional, pt.2

In this case, Florida argued that they needed to test for drugs to prevent beneficiaries who were addicted to drugs to squander their TANF benefits on their drug habit. This would lead one to presume that there was a significant problem substance abuse with many TANF participants.

This is because any time you add an additional administrative step to a process, you increase the cost of the program. When you add tests or audits to the process, you have to make certain they are examining the correct data and that the tests are valid.

And, of course, you need to ensure that the audit or test does not cost more than your actual savings. If your audit procedure saves $100 per year, but costs $500 per year, it viability is questionable.

And this is what made Florida’s testing program all the more egregious. Not only did it violate the constitutional protections of these individuals, but also its ostensible purpose of protecting taxpayer expenditures for TANF benefits appears to be less than genuine, because the actual incident of drug use by individuals on the program very low.

During the period Florida was testing individuals, it found that out of 4,046 tests, illegal drugs were only found in 108 applicants. This was a rate of 2.67 percent, which hardly suggests that drug use is rampant or widespread among TANF applicants.

Drugs and substance abuse remain a problem in Florida and the nation, but singling out TANF for suspicionless drug testing offends the core principals of the constitution and the 11th Circuit correctly found they are impermissible as a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, "LUIS W. LEBRON v. SECRETARY OF THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES," No. 14-10322, December 3, 2014

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