published Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

ACLU eyes legal challenge to new TN law mandating welfare drug tests

NASHVILLE -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is looking for people interested in challenging a new law mandating drug tests for some applicants for the state's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

The law, passed in 2012, took effect today after the state Department of Human Services spent two years on developing a plan for implementing the drug-testing program.

ACLU-Tennessee says the law "raises serious constitutional concerns" and had urged Gov. Bill Haslam to veto it two years ago, calling it vague, singling out a particular group for differential treatment and allowing "an intrusive search without probable cause."

“This law singles out limited-income people and requires them to submit to humiliating and intrusive searches of their bodily fluids because they need temporary help making ends meet," ACLU-Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg said in a statement.

She said research indicates TANF recipients "are no more likely to use illicit drugs than farmers, veterans, and students, who also receive government support. ACLU-TN wants to hear from any potential TANF recipients who do not want to submit to the required drug testing.”

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