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This Summer, Two Dangerous Laws Go Into Effect in Tennessee

While the antics of state legislators can make headlines (and punchlines) during the legislative session, some of the bills that are passed and signed into law have real, devastating consequences for Tennesseans once they are implemented. This July, two dangerous laws went into effect, and their impact is already being felt by the communities they target.

Drug Testing for TANF Benefits

Research indicates that recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are no more likely to use illicit drugs than others who receive government support, such as farmers, veterans and students.

But on July 1, a law went into effect requiring some TANF applicants to submit to humiliating and invasive searches of their bodily fluids in order to receive government support. This law discriminates against limited-income people and allows for an intrusive search without probable cause.  ACLU-TN lobbied against the law.

Criminalization of Mothers Struggling With Addiction

Another dangerous new Tennessee law unconstitutionally singles out new mothers struggling with substance abuse for criminal assault charges.  ACLU-TN had urged the governor to veto this law because it raises serious constitutional concerns regarding equal treatment under the law and jeopardizes Tennessee families by deterring women who need help from seeking pre-natal care.

Tennessee made international headlines when a mother in Monroe County recently became the first to be charged with assault after her newborn baby tested positive for methamphetamines.

Concerned about how these laws impact you?

ACLU-TN stands ready to challenge both laws, and we urge anyone concerned about the impact either will have on them or their families to contact us at


August 28, 2014: ACLU of Tennessee Launches Voter Education Campaign

August 25, 2014: Sixth Circuit to Hear Appeal in ACLU-TN’s Occupy Nashville Lawsuit Today

July 10, 2014: ACLU-TN Seeks to Challenge New Law
Criminalizing Addicted Mothers


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