ACLU Of Texas Challenges Constitutionality And "Mean Spiritedness” Of Proposal Aimed At Needy Families and Their Children

Contact: Dotty Griffith, (713) 942-8146 x 103 or (832) 291-4776;

AUSTIN – Responding to Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst press conference calling for enactment of a proposed law that would require drug testing of applicants for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF):

ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke said, “How sad that our state’s highest elected officials have embraced this mean-spirited measure that would punish innocent children for their parents’ conduct. This proposal is a costly, ineffective, inhumane and punitive effort by state government based on stereotypes about our state’s neediest Texans.”

ACLU of Texas Legal & Policy Director Rebecca Robertson said, “Drug tests are particularly invasive searches, and under our Constitution, the government cannot conduct such searches unless it has a good reason to believe a person is actually engaged in wrongdoing. This law authorizes government over-reach by allowing arbitrary searches without any suspicion that a crime is being committed.”

ACLU of Texas Policy Strategist Matt Simpson said, “The possible benefits of this proposed invasive and discriminatory testing are far outweighed by the costs. We’ve already seen this kind of approach fail: a similarly ineffective fingerprinting program for food stamp recipients was abandoned by the State of Texas as too costly. We don’t need to go down that road again.”