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Supreme Court could weigh in on Governor Scott's drug-testing order

This week the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear Governor Rick Scott’s appeal to a permanent injunction against his drug-testing policy for government employees, according to on Tuesday.

Rick Scott has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on a decision about his drug-testing policy
Getty Images/ Joe Raedle

In 2011, Scott implemented an executive order that every employee of the Florida state government be tested. This included department heads and everyone all the way down to janitorial staff. However, in April of 2012 a federal judge in Miami issued an injunction against the plan.

In addition, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees—which represents 40,000 out of over 85,000 state employees—challenged Governor Scott’s order. The union argued that the executive order violates the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable search and seizures.

The logic, as written by Judge Ursula Ungaro, is that Scott can’t prove any need to actually test the employees. In fact, two departments, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Juvenile Justice, did their own drug testing and found that less than one percent of workers failed.

Using that as background, it would be incredibly difficult for Scott to prove he has reason to test the other 99 percent for drugs. The judge notes that the risks to and invasions of privacy far outweigh any benefits that would come out of testing these employees. Miami News Times reports that when the one perfect did fail, it was mostly for marijuana use.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the drug-testing couldn’t be constitutionally justified. The case was sent back down to a district court in order to determine just which employees could be tested. In January, Scott asked the Supreme Court to review the decision.

Scott’s newest argument is that government employees should be held to the same standard as employees in the private sector. He and his lawyers argue that submitting to drug-testing is a normal part of the job process, and the government shouldn’t be barred from the same practice.

The court will meet on Friday to decide whether or not to take the appeal.

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