Judge denies Scott’s requests for ACLU records in drug testing challenge (Corrected)

By | 12.06.11 | 3:38 pm

Gov. Rick Scott on a trade mission to Brazil (Pic via Facebook)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida announced that a judge has denied Gov. Rick Scott’s “attempt to subpoena records from the ACLU of Florida and subject ACLU officials to depositions in the ongoing legal challenge to Scott’s order requiring illegal, suspicionless drug testing of state employees.”

The ACLU is currently challenging a Florida policy that requires state employees to undergo drug tests.

The state filed an appeal last month in response to a court decision halting enforcement of the state’s controversial welfare drug testing law.

Last September, a U.S. court in Orlando granted Luis Lebron and the ACLU of Florida an injunction against the new state law requiring welfare applicants to be drug tested. A Navy veteran and single father, Lebron was denied temporary assistance benefits he was otherwise qualified for because he refused to waive his Fourth Amendment rights and submit to a drug test.

Since then, the state has asked for ACLU records related to the case, which the group has called “unreasonable, oppressive and … pure harassment.” See correction below.

According to the ACLU’s press release from today:

The ruling yesterday allows the Governor’s office access only to documents which are available through publication or on the ACLU’s website. But the order denied the majority of the Governor’s subpoena including taking depositions of ACLU leaders and receiving documents including studies, polling data, legislative proposals and correspondence related to private sector and public drug testing.

In the ruling, Torres wrote the court had, “serious doubts as to their relevance for purposes of this case” and that “ACLU’s ‘knowledge and position’ on employer drug testing, the prevalence of drug use, public opinion polls, and the effects of workplace drug use, have almost nothing to do with the claims or defenses in this case.” [emphasis added by the ACLU]

“Whatever the ACLU knows or believes about the frequency or propriety of employer drug testing or drug use simply has no relevance to the constitutional claim at issue – whether drug testing of these state employees in executive agencies is permissible under the Fourth Amendment,” Torres wrote. [emphasis added by the ACLU]

In addition, yesterday’s ruling also found that the Governor’s subpoenas appear to be, “boundless and untethered to the claims or defenses actually at issue in the case…”

“The Governor was clearly trying to harass and intimidate us for our frequent opposition to his policies and the Court was right to step in and put a stop to it,” said Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, in a statement.

“The Constitution protects everyone, even state employees, against unreasonable government searches like the Governor ordered and we look forward to continuing our challenges to Governor Scott’s unconstitutional orders and policies,” he said.

The challenge to the state’s order is currently in a federal court in Miami.

Correction:

We mistakenly reported that the case in question is the ACLU challenge to the state’s policy of drug testing welfare recipients. It is not. The case revolves around Scott’s policy of drug testing state employees. We apologize for the error.

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