Post details: FL drug testing law unconstitutional [Updated with link]

04/26/12

Permalink 02:22:49 pm, by fourth, 913 words, 2838 views   English (US)
Categories: General

FL drug testing law unconstitutional [Updated with link]

Update: American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Council 79 v. Scott, 857 F. Supp. 2d 1322 (S.D. Fla. 2012):

To be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, a search ordinarily must be based on individualized suspicion of wrongdoing. Chandler, 520 U.S. at 313. To warrant an exception from the main rule, the government must show that it has a “special need, beyond the normal need for law enforcement.” Id. When, as here, the government alleges such a need, “courts must undertake a context-specific inquiry, examining closely the competing private and public interests advanced by the parties.” Id. at 314. The permissibility of a drug-testing program "is judged by balancing its intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against its promotion of legitimate governmental interests." Skinner, 489 U.S. at 619-620 (quoting Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 654 (1979)).

. . .

Moving to the Georgia statute [in Chandler] in question, the Court held that merely aspirational goals, such as promoting public confidence and trust in elected officials and demonstrating the government’s commitment to the struggle against drug abuse, which are not tied to any real, concrete danger, do not constitute a “special need” sufficient to exempt a state from its normal Fourth Amendment requirements. According to the Court, Georgia had failed to present any evidence of a “concrete danger” that would demonstrate that the hazards the state sought to avoid were “real and not simply hypothetical.” Id. at 319-20. In particular, the state had asserted “no evidence of a drug problem among the State's elected officials,” nor did the covered individuals “typically ... perform high-risk, safety sensitive tasks.” Id. “Symbolic” public concerns, the Chandler Court concluded, warrant no special departure from the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 322.

. . .

In other words, the Governor’s safety rationale for the EO essentially relies on the Governor's common sense belief that because illegal drug use exists in the general population, it must also exist among state employees. And, the Governor predicts these drug-impaired employees will be less reliable and more accident-prone; thus, a public benefit will be attained by ensuring that all state employees under the Governor's purview are drug-free. The Governor may be right, but unlike the programs in Skinner, Nat’l Treasury, and Vernonia, which were moored to concrete dangers, the Governor’s program is detached from any readily-apparent or demonstrated risk. Rather, the Governor’s broadly-defined objectives more closely resemble the state of Georgia’s argument, rejected in Chandler, that the testing of state officials was justified because “the use of illegal drugs draws into question an official's judgment and integrity; jeopardizes the discharge of public functions, including antidrug law enforcement efforts; and undermines public confidence and trust in elected officials.” 520 U.S. at 318. And in Chandler, the Supreme Court held that without evidence of a drug problem among the state’s elected officials (who typically do not perform high-risk, safety-sensitive tasks), this justification was “symbolic, not ‘special,’” as required by the relevant precedents. Id. at 322.

The Union here asks for a permanent injunction, which requires three elements: (1) there was a legal violation; (2) there is a serious risk of continuing irreparable injury if an injunction is not granted; and (3) there are no adequate remedies at law. Bolin v. Story, 225 F.3d 1234, 1242 (11th Cir. 2000). Here, the Court finds that the EO, as applied to current employees at the covered agencies, is violative of the Fourth Amendment, and that these employees will suffer irreparable harm if subjected to it. See Covino v. Patrissi, 967 F.2d 73, 77 (2d Cir. 1992) (holding that Fourth Amendment violation is enough to show irreparable harm); see also Am. Fed'n of Teachers-West Va., AFL-CIO v. Kanawha Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 592 F. Supp. 2d 883 (S.D.W. Va. 2009); Bannister v. Bd. of Cnty. Comm'rs of Leavenworth Cnty., Kan., 829 F. Supp. 1249 (D. Kan. 1993); Marchwinski v. Howard, 113 F. Supp. 2d 1134 (E.D. Mich. 2000), but see 309 F.3d 330 (6th Cir. 2002) (holding that district court erred in granting preliminary injunction) vacated by 319 F.3d 258 (6th Cir. 2003). The Court also concludes that there is no adequate remedy at law in light of the immeasurable nature of the harm that will flow from the EO’s implementation; were the EO to be implemented, the current employees at the covered agencies would suffer a Fourth Amendment violation that cannot be remedied in monetary terms. “Indeed, one reason for issuing an injunction may be that damages, being immeasurable, will not provide a remedy at law.” Treasure Valley Potato Bargaining Asso. v. Ore-Ida Foods, Inc., 497 F.2d 203, 218 (9th Cir. 1974), cert. denied 419 U.S. 999 (1974).

The Court is mindful, however, that injunctive relief should be limited in scope to the extent necessary to protect the interests of the parties. See Gibson v. Firestone, 741 F.2d 1268, 1273 (11th Cir. 1984). Because the Union did not contend that the EO is unconstitutional as applied to “prospective new hires,” meaning individuals who are not currently employed at covered agencies, the Court does not reach the issues of whether such prospective employees can be subjected to preemployment testing and subsequent random drug testing pursuant to the EO. However, the relief encompasses both Union and non-Union employees because the EO is unconstitutional as applied to them for precisely the same reasons. Accordingly, the Court grants permanent injunctive relief to all individuals currently employed at covered agencies.

StoptheDrugWar.org: Judge Rejects Florida State Employee Drug Testing by Phillip Smith

Jacksonville.com: Rick Scott's state worker drug tests ruled unconstitutional by Mike Marino

HuffPo: Rick Scott Drug Testing Executive Order Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Judge by Arthur Delaney

MiamiHerald.com: Judge: Fla. worker drug testing unconstitutional

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