Share & Connect
Florida Governor Rick Scott is already wildly unpopular in the state. And he is not really working hard to gain any popularity back either. He has decided to make drug tests mandatory for all state workers, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to mount legal challenges.
Scott signed an order last week requiring random drug screening for all state workers at least every three months. New job applicants would also be required to undergo a drug tests according to the order signed by the tea party backed governor. “We’re certainly moving in that direction,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, when asked about possible lawsuits challenging the policy. “It’s certainly going to be subjected to a test, a constitutional evaluation by the courts,” Simon, a veteran civil rights advocate, told Reuters.
The measure would likely be ruled unconstitutional. Federal courts generally have ruled that such policies violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches, say attorneys and legal scholars. “You can’t do blanket tests like that. They’re facially unconstitutional,” said Ephraim Hess, a Davie attorney who prevailed over the City of Hollywood, Florida in April 2000 when U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp ruled that governments cannot require prospective employees to take drug tests unless there is a “special need,” such as safety.
Despite the obvious unconstitutionality of Scott’s new measure, he is prepared to defend the order in court. Using taxpayers’ money. Talk about fiscally conservative, small-government, right?
The Florida State Legislature also filed a bill this week that would require all welfare applicants take a drug test. And they would have to pay for their own drug screening. Drug-testing public assistance recipients is not a new or even a successful idea. “A decade ago, Michigan implemented mandatory testing in three welfare offices. Out of 258 new and continuing applicants tested, 21 tested positive for illicit substances. All but three of these women tested positive for marijuana only. In light of such experiences, few states have chosen to pursue similar efforts,” said Harold Pollack, the Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.
The real controversy of the mandatory drug testing push is because of Scott’s financial interests. Mother Jones reported last week that Solantic, Scott’s own company, would benefit from the new laws. Scott handed over his health care business to his wife before he took office. But, that doesn’t really distance him too far from the profits the company would likely see with the new drug testing order. Among the services that Solantic offer? Drug testing. Many Democrats are questioning the conflict of interest. The governor’s office dismisses ethics questions without elaborating. Furthermore, Scott is seeking to privatize Medicaid in another move that would potentially benefit Solantic, which also operates a chain of urgent care centers.
Is it possible that Rick Scott only ran for governor so he could pad his bottom line? It kind of seems that way. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at Rick Scott’s questionable ethics and business ties.