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Supreme Court stays out of Florida drug-testing challenge

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Monday, April 21, 2014, at 8:55 a.m.

The Supreme Court on Monday declined the chance to review Florida's random drug-testing of state employees.

The high court's decision, issued without comment or explanation, effectively upheld a lower court's ruling that challenged the suspicion-less, wide-ranging drug testing program.

On March 22, 2011, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order directing all state agencies to subject all prospective new hires to drug tests and to randomly test current employees. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 79 challenged the random drug-testing of employees as a violation of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit last year ruled the policy went too far, and ordered that state and union officials figure out which of the state's 85,000 workers should reasonably be tested.

"In effect, the State is offering its employees this Hobson’s choice: either they relinquish their Fourth Amendment rights and produce a urine sample which carries the potential for termination, or they accept termination immediately," the appellate court ruled.

The union urged the Supreme Court to stay out of the fight for now.

"Both parties have acknowledged the possibility of seeking further review in the circuit court, or this Court, once they complete the process of identifying which job categories are safety-sensitive and the district court enters a final judgment based on a fully developed record," the union argued in a legal brief.

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