New Florida Law Requiring Drug Tests Before the Needy Receive Help Challenged by Navy VeteranSeptember 08, 2011

Navy veteran Luis Lebron filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging a new Florida law that requires applicants for state assistance to pay for and pass a drug test. He applied for state money to help care for his four-year-old son while he finishes college. "The law assumes that everyone who needs a little help has a drug problem," he said of the Florida law. "It's wrong and it's unfair. It judges a whole group of people based on their temporary economic situation."

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the new law in June, claiming that it would bar many low-income people from receiving welfare benefits and save the state $77 million. It requires new applicants for the state's Temporary Assistance For Needy Families program, which provides $180 a month for one person or $364 for a family of four, to pay $30-35 up front for the drug test.

No other state currently requires drug testing. A similar law in Michigan was struck down as illegal after a four-year legal battle.

Like in the Michigan case, Mr. Lebron is arguing that the law violates the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches by government agents.

Mr. Lebron swore to uphold the Constitution when he joined the military. "Now I'm asking for the Constitution to defend me," he said. "No one should have to give up their rights to provide for their children."