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Lawrence David-Bisses

Drug Testing as a Requirement for Welfare is Unconstitutional

American political philosophy has long centered on the individual – individual liberty, individual rights and individual responsibility. Influenced by the nation’s revolutionary beginnings, pioneer America was characterized by a staunch opposition to government intervention, resenting interpositions it viewed as interfering with the natural course of liberty.The state’s role was thus regarded with jealousy. Aside from its role in preserving peace, order and security, in no way was the state to involve itself in matters administered by the individual. Departures from this maxim were seen through the lens of tyranny; the very condition the pioneers sought to expunge through the American Revolution.The relevance of America’s pioneer ethos is central to understanding the debates in contemporary America. Retaining its philosophical hegemony well into the 20th century, the small-government ideology was severely undermined by the New Deal policies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.Considered the dawn of American progressivism, the New Deal ushered a fundamental transition in American domestic statecraft.Laissez-faire was tempered with interventionism, witnessing the rise of socio-economic policies and programs for social welfare. Opposition to these policies was particularly virulent and continues to characterize American political thought. In fact, the currents of American political action continue to pit small-government ideology against its progressivist nemesis.The latest iteration of America’s philosophical debate was advanced by Florida Governor Rick Scott. Espousing small-government principles, Scott is touted as a fiscal hawk with little sympathy for social programs. Faced with a mounting deficit, the Governor has vowed to limit state spending, and to review the various programs it currently supports.A controversial target has been the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF); providing short-term assistance to individuals on the path to employment. Governor Scott has gone beyond efficiency-based program review—rather, in efforts of preventing the “subsidization of drug addiction,” applicants for TANF will be required to undergo drug testing… Read More