Ok, so this is not a criminal appeal, but I wanted to take a moment to pass along an interesting opinion issued by the Eleventh Circuit. In LeBron v. Florida Dept. of Children and Families, No. 11-15258, the Court rejected Rick Scott’s mandatory drug testing requirement for all TANF (Temporary Assistance for needy Families–ie, welfare) applicants.
Why is the opinion so interesting, you ask? Well, some of you may recall that this case stems out of an early decision on the part of the newly-elected Governor to require mandatory drug testing of all welfare applicants. When Lebron applied, he refused to submit to the mandatory drug testing, and filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the United States District Court seeking to ban enforcement of the drug testing on Fourth Amendment grounds. The District Court entered the injunction, and after DCF (ie, the Governor) appealed, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. In rejecting Governor Scott’s drug testing requirements, the Court pointedly noted that “[t]here 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,” and that “none of the State’s asserted concerns will be ameliorated by drug testing.” LeBron, slip op. pg. 19-20. In short, the Court concluded, “[t]he simple fact of seeking public assistance does not deprive a TANF applicant of the same constitutional protection from unreasonable searches that all other citizens enjoy.” LeBron, slip op. pg. 20.
For those of us who may be unhappy with the Governor, this opinion gave us something to applaud. Now that Governor Scott is up for reelection in 2014, it will be interesting to see how much back-pedaling he does with respect to his unsuccessful policy decisions. It’s already started. According to news reports, he’s already announced plans to expand Medicaid, and he’s announced his desire to give teachers a pay raise. It will be interesting to see what else he’ll do in hopes of being reelected.