The Question of Florida's Welfare Drug-Test Law

10/13/2011 10:18 am ET | Updated Dec 13, 2011

Both the American government and people are trying to endure a stagnant economy, but sometimes the government crosses the line. The questionable legality of a recent act in Florida is a perfect example of this phenomenon. It has had the audacity to propose unconstitutional drug testing on its welfare applicants.

As the poverty rate has increased to one in six people for the first time since 1993, many people begin to apply for welfare in tough economic times, and states are looking for ways to avoid paying out funds to residents.

Many southern states have also considered implementing Florida's law. According to this law, welfare applicants would be charged $30 for the test, and reimbursed the fee upon passing. The accuracy of the drug tests enters the situation. Are the $30 drug tests fully accurate? If applicants do not initially pass, Florida law mandates that applicants must wait one year before reapplying for welfare.

While the proposition of the law seems like a plausible idea on paper, the underlying basis of the law implies that all welfare users are poor drug addicts. This law implies that welfare users are guilty until proven innocent. The ripple effect of the law also presents the public with a deteriorated image of welfare users.

The law also steps into unconstitutional territory, as it could be considered as a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures. Even though the Fourth Amendment is enforced to protect people against searches without warrants or probable cause, it can also extend to this sort of scenario.

While the drug test is voluntary, without participating many Americans would be deprived of the means to take care of their own families. Apparently, someone in Florida wasn't paying attention in Social Studies class. By proposing this law, welfare recipients and applicants are having their constitutionally-given rights breached. The Florida law is damaging the lives of those who need assistance the most.

It is necessary that the recent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit filing against Florida to stop the testing succeeds as soon as possible. Quick denial of this unfair law will result in prevention of this dangerous trend. If Florida wins against the ACLU, many states that want to use this law will look upon Florida as a role model. The ACLU's action towards Florida represents the determination in protecting Americans.

Florida has already crossed the line and could soon be violating more human rights by mandating testing on other government entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security. The ignorance of this law must be contained before other states follow suit. The basic rights of the less fortunate are being taken away slowly. Something needs to be done before it is too late.
In difficult economic times, the human rights of the all citizens, no matter their economic standing, must be protected. A welfare drug test only creates more problems for an ever-increasing portion of our nation's population.