Do Drug Testing Requirements for Welfare Applicants Constitute an ‘Unfair Search?’

There is big news out of Georgia this week as Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill requiring drug testing for welfare applicants.  This is particularly relevant to Arkansas politics because drug testing will be a topic of discussion in the 2013 general assembly.

More on the story from Atlanta’s CBS affiliate:

“The basic premise is people who are receiving taxpayers money should be clean,” said Deal

Deal signed House Bill 861, requiring parents to have to pass a drug test before receiving benefits. The law was created to make sure money going to low-income families with kids actually gets to the kids.

“The intention, of course, is to try to make sure we’re not spending taxpayers money for things that were not intended, namely to support someone’s drug habit,” said Deal.

Under the law, if someone fails the drug test, they have to wait a month and take another test.

Lovers of welfare, do not fret!  The ACLU is on the case:

“To do this was punitive and unconstitutional,” said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Seagraves believes the law violates people’s rights and unfairly targets people who have fallen on hard economic times.

“It’s patently unconstitutional to conduct suspicion-less searches on people just because they are applying for public benefits,” said Seagraves.

Seagraves’ argument that the drug testing constitutes an unfair search doesn’t hold water.  Citizens that choose to apply for welfare will do so with the knowledge that they must be tested, therefore consenting.  No guns are being hoisted in the faces of innocent, honest welfare applicants.  If you choose to enroll, then you choose to be tested.  Conversely, if you are on drugs & you do not wish to be subjected to a test.

Seagraves & liberals desperate to defend enslavement programs would love for you to believe that this is some sort of discrimination, but it simply is not.  How is this requirement different than states requiring employment applicants to disclose criminal history before applying for certain positions? (In Arkansas, a pitifully small number of positions come with this requirement)  There is no assumption of guilt here.  Rather, states are making an extra effort (or pitifully little effort, as in Arkansas) to gather as much information as possible to ensure that taxpayer money is spent appropriately.  This is commonsense, it is fiscally sound, and it is all-around good policy.

Georgia’s law, which goes into effect July 1, will undoubtedly come under legal challenge, perhaps from Obama’s own Justice Department.  These developments will also be of relevance for Arkansas moving forward.

The only arguments against this type of drug testing are emotional & irrational.  But rest assured, that will not stop nanny-staters from making them.



  1. Ben

    I think this is a great idea!
    I have to pass a pee test to work. If that is not against the law!
    Then why not have the people receiving welfare pass a pee test get money which I had to give the government?
    There are too many people on drugs!
    We need to take the profit out of the drug business!

  2. Skip

    “The only arguments against this type of drug testing are emotional & irrational.” This is about the dumbest most insensitive thing i have ever heard you say sir, actually it’s quite thoughtless and uncaring for your fellow human being and it’s this type of thought process of the perfect conservative that irks me not just in you but in all those who somehow feel like it is there duty to protect the rest of tax paying society from those who have fallen on hard times, I suggest that None of the people who complain about giving a helping hand to those in need have ever needed that help themselves, you obviously havent. The question is why do you care really? Here is a project for you, do some research and find out how much money doing this will actually save the United States government, or in reality how much money it will waste the tax payers for this BS hypocritical action. Seriously Drug testing Companies all over Georgia are jumping for Joy they just got there back door beauracracy handshake all at the cost of the taxpayer and the Children who might go hungry until the drugs get out of babymommas system, absolute stupidity!!! but Oh well i am just emotional and irrational!
    P.S. Why arent all federal and state employees Drug tested? You think half of them right now could pass one? I Don’t think Obama could pass one or Boehner. Also what about the 16 states that Marijuana is legal in, does that cause them to fail a drug test if that drug is legal in that state?

    • Backgammon

      Skip: I am really tired of the emotional feelings of those who collect money from those who work and then use drugs to continue their delusion. Perhaps if they were not doing drugs their little feelings wouldn’t be so hurt and they could go to work and be productive and contribute to society. Perhaps I misunderstood your comment. Since I don’t do drugs and they are illegal, I do not think society shouild continue enable the druggie.

      • Skip

        Hmmmm Really? So you think everyone who needs government assistance is a drug user? Wow! how narrow minded is that? here is a little education for ya I read this somewhere on the Internet I am sure, most drugs are out of your system in a few days some just over night, Marijuana as far as I know is the only one that stays in your system for like a month andf that is if you are a regular user of marijuana, it happens to be a Legal drug in I think 16 states now if you have a medical card for it, in those states since it is a Legal drug would probably not be a limiting factor in receiving assistance, but what do I know, I don’t. but as stated if a person wanted to abuse the system he will find the way, they will simply wait a few days go get there drug test pass it and go on about there business, and you didn’t prevent it from happeneing all you did was create another bureaucracy all in the name of what? making yourself feel good because you single handedly prevented someone from doing drugs? If you believe that I got some ocean front property Ill sell you right here in Arkansas..
        The Point is there are alot of people now that need assistance and the Vast majority of them are not drug users, but they will have to go pee in a cup to get it, these same people have paid taxes there entire lives, and you self righteous people who want to make an already difficult time more difficult make me want to puke.
        I bet you are a drinkin Man, I bet you don’t see anything wrong with the alcohol do you? Look up the statistics on the amount of deaths that are caused by the abuse of alcohol, the families that are torn apart, because of the abuse of alcohol, why don’t they also test for Alcohol>??? Because its Legal?
        I just have this strange feeling that all of this is way over your head, I really thought Mr Horton would have seen the point but he obviously has his mind made up and cant see the forest for the trees.
        I will do my best to try and make this as simple as possible for you both and anyone else reading this that has the same opinion.
        No matter what you do you cannot make people adhere to what you think is proper, you can’t legislate it into existence, you can’t force people to bow to what you believe is right.

        “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor , he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.” Proverbs 21: 13

        I was Once a republican, because they stood for most of the things that I have such as being responsible for yourself and was always good for my business, but this new breed of extreme republicans who have no heart for people who really cant control there future are causing me to hate this party, the greed and selfishness is just beyond reproach they make me ill at times.

        I have many friends who have been tragically affected by this economy, pridefull people who don’t want a handout, people who never believed they would ever be in the position they are to need help from there government, even though they had paid into the system they were drawing from, and for people like you that prematurely judge them as drug users and ingrates for being in the position they are yeah it makes me emotional, but it makes you heartless, and I Think my emotion trumps your lack of compassion for a fellow human being!!
        Hope that makes YOU feel good!

    • Jimmy Isley

      Well babymomma would have to wait for the drugs to get out of her system if she wasn’t doing them plus hell I al sure she could have bought a lilbit of food with money she spent on drugs she wasn’t worried about the kids then I had to take a drug test for when I got my job and then they pull 10% of the company to piss in a cup every single month. So I guess my kids will not go hungry when I fail a drug test.

  3. Skip

    Here ya go some more Emotional and irrational arguments!!!

    Florida didn’t save money by drug testing welfare recipients, data shows

    By Brittany Alana Davis, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
    Brittany Alana DavisTampa Bay Times In Print: Thursday, April 19, 2012

    TALLAHASSEE — Required drug tests for people seeking welfare benefits ended up costing taxpayers more than it saved and failed to curb the number of prospective applicants, data used against the state in an ongoing legal battle shows.

    The findings — that only 108 of the 4,086 people who took a drug test failed — are additional ammunition for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which sued the state and won a temporary ban on the drug-testing program in October, said ACLU spokesman Derek Newton.

    Attorneys for the state immediately appealed the ban, and will face off against the ACLU again at the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta and the U.S. District Court in Orlando in coming months.

    The costs and benefits of the law — and the outcome of the court case — could reverberate nationwide. This week, Georgia passed its own drug welfare law.

    Since Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law last year, 25 states have considered similar legislation, Newton said.

    Data about the law’s cost may impact the court of public opinion, but Jenn Meale, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said it won’t play a role in the legal proceedings.

    That’s because ACLU’s case rests on whether the law violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against “unreasonable searches” by the government.

    “Any costs associated with the program are irrelevant to the analysis of whether the statute is constitutional,” Meale said.

    Of the 4,086 applicants who scheduled drug tests while the law was enforced, 108 people, or 2.6 percent, failed, most often testing positive for marijuana. About 40 people scheduled tests but canceled them, according to the Department of Children and Families, which oversees Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, known as the TANF program.

    The numbers, confirming previous estimates, show that taxpayers spent $118,140 to reimburse people for drug test costs, at an average of $35 per screening.

    The state’s net loss? $45,780.

    “That’s not counting attorneys and court fees and the thousands of hours of staff time it took to implement this policy,” Newton said.

    The law also didn’t impact the number of people who applied for benefits.

    The findings don’t ruffle supporters of the law, who say that its primary purpose is to make sure taxpayer money doesn’t supplement drug use.

    “It’s not about money, it’s about the drug issue,” said Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, who sponsored the legislation. “It’s about using every tool we have in the toolbox to fight drugs.”

    Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said the governor agreed: The drug welfare law is about protecting children and getting parents back to work.

    “It is important to ensure that people who receive TANF dollars use the cash assistance appropriately and not spend it on illegal drugs,” she said.

    Smith said he believes the law helps keep people off drugs and that there’s undocumented savings in the form of less prison costs and fewer broken families.

    He sponsored another bill in 2012, recently signed into law by Scott, to allow state agencies to drug test their employees and fire those who test positive.

    That law is also expected to cost money and to yield lawsuits.

    Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at

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  6. Smooth Operator

    Mr. Horton, I am very interested to hear you reply to the comment about this drug testing costing the state more tax money rather than saving. I understand you had a similar comment on your Facebook post linking to this article, and that person also gave a link to an article discussing the same instance as the one linked to above. Yet, you’ve failed to respond to both with either positive or negative feedback.

    I would like to hear your opinion of those statistics and how it may effect your view on this legislation.

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