Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he does not disapprove of Florida Gov. Rick Scott's efforts to drug-test state workers. The former Massachusetts governor declined to say, however, that he is a big fan of the idea.
A reporter for the local Fox affiliate in Tampa asked Romney in an interview Wednesday if states should have the right to test public sector workers for drugs, and if the federal government should do the same.
"The states have rights under their constitution to do what they think is best," Romney said. "The governor here is trying an idea, and I'm not going to disagree with Governor Scott. The idea of people being tested is something, which, we'll see what the results are."
So far, the results have been one constitutional smackdown after another from courts.
Last year, Scott issued an executive order requiring suspicionless drug testing for some 80,000 state workers in Florida. The order drew an immediate court challenge from labor and civil liberties groups arguing that indiscriminately forcing state workers to pee in cups violates the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable search and seizure.
Scott suspended his order while the judiciary considered the challenge. In April, a federal judge deemed the testing unconstitutional. "The [executive order] does not identify a concrete danger that must be addressed by suspicionless drug-testing of state employees, and the governor shows no evidence of a drug use problem at the covered agencies," the judge wrote.
It was the second time federal courts have found Scott's drug testing ambitions unconstitutional. Last fall, a different federal judge issued an injunction against a 2011 law that required welfare applicants to pass drug tests in order to receive benefits. Scott's administration is appealing the first injunction and has vowed to appeal the April decision as well.
Romney was much less enthusiastic about drug testing on Tuesday than he was during the Republican primary in February, when he called drug-testing welfare recipients "an excellent idea."
Republicans in several states have sought to copy Florida's welfare drug testing law, despite its questionable constitutionality, and scant evidence that welfare recipients are on drugs or that the policy saves money.