A U.S. judge on Tuesday struck down a Florida law requiring drug screening for welfare recipients, saying that it violated the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who campaigned on a promise to expand drug testing, said he would appeal the ruling.
The law took effect in July 2011 and required parents to undergo and pay for urine tests for illegal drugs when they applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a federal-state program that helps poor people with children pay for food, shelter and necessities.
The testing fee of $25 to $45 was to be repaid by the state if the test came back negative, but applicants who tested positive would have been barred from receiving benefits for a year.
Enforcement of the law was temporarily halted in October 2011 after the American Civil Liberties Union sued, arguing that mandatory testing of people who were not suspected of using drugs violated the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven permanently halted enforcement of the law in Tuesday’s ruling. She agreed with an earlier court finding that “there is nothing inherent in the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a concrete danger that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use….”