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Fla.: Supreme Court Declines Review of Drug Testing Policy

By Rita Zeidner  5/19/2014
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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a federal appeals court ruling that a random drug testing policy for state employees championed by Gov. Rick Scott is unconstitutional.

The high court's decision leaves intact a May 2013, 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found the governor's order to be too broad.

The appeals court said drug testing may be justified for some workers, but that Scott could not require all of the state’s employees to be tested.

Scott faced an immediate legal challenge to his 2011 executive order calling for drug testing for state workers. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida both sued, claiming the policy violated the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

In his petition for Supreme Court review, attorneys for Perry accused the federal appeals court of overreaching.

“The constitutionality of Florida’s drug testing policy is not only unsettled —it is an important issue the court should decide now,” said the petition. “The Eleventh Circuit has intruded upon Florida’s sovereign right to ensure the general welfare of its citizens and regulate its workforce.”

The question of whether a state can require all workers to submit to a drug test without a reason has long been settled, according to ACLU attorney Shalini Goel Agarwal, the lead attorney challenging Perry. "Without a threat to public safety or a suspicion of drug use, people can't be required to sacrifice their constitutional rights in order to serve the people of Florida," she said in a statement.

Scott v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-841 (cert. denied, April 21, 2014).

Rita Zeidner is a freelance business writer and former senior writer for HR Magazine.

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