Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) Tuesday issued an executive order Tuesday requiring that current state employees submit to random drug tests and that applicants for state jobs undergo pre-hiring drug tests. The order will go into effect in 60 days for current employees and immediately for new hires, but it certain to be challenged in court.
Drug testing, when conducted by the government, is a fourth amendment issue. It is search and seizure of the most private kind, and is thus subject to the “reasonableness” test. And while the Supreme Court has allowed drug testing as reasonable for people in safety-critical jobs and students in extra-curricular activities (!), it still has never allowed a blanket random test of all government employees. (Private sector companies can require that all employees be drug tested because they’re not the government for the purpose of the fourth amendment.)
The ACLU of Florida attacked Scott’s order, saying that a federal court had in 2004 already ruled that the state was violating the Fourth Amendment when the Department of Juvenile Justice instituted a random drug testing program. In that case, a US district judge ordered the agency to halt random drug testing and pay the worker who sued $150,000.
“I’m not sure why Gov. Scott does not know that the policy he recreated by executive order today has already been declared unconstitutional,” ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said in a statement. “The state of Florida cannot force people to surrender their constitutional rights in order to work for the state. Absent any evidence of illegal drug use, or assigned a safety-sensitive job, people have a right to be left alone.”