An Atlanta federal appeals court struck down a Florida law mandating the blanket drug-testing of all welfare recipients, raising fresh legal doubts about a similar Georgia law.
A three-judge panel for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday concluded that Florida failed to prove any “concrete danger” justifying the need for suspicion-less drug testing for poverty aid recipients.
Georgia lawmakers this year passed their own bill that built in a screen for reasonable suspicion rather than attempt to test every welfare recipient. Critics called it political grandstanding and said it was doomed to fail a legal challenge.
Gov. Nathan Deal quickly signed the proposal, House Bill 772, into law. But his office immediately delayed the implementation until the appeals court ruled on the Florida case. At the time, Deal’s aides said they wanted to await guidance from the courts rather than risk another legal battle before the Florida case was settled.
It’s unclear what the state’s next move is now that the decision has been issued.
A separate part of Georgia’s law, which would have applied drug tests to food stamp recipients, has already been thrown out. The part of the law that applies to Georgia’s 16,000 welfare recipients has not.
The three-judge panel didn’t mince words when it came to the Florida law. It concluded that the suspicion-less drug-testing requirement for welfare recipients “offends the Fourth Amendment,” which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures.