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TSA Searches Challenged as Unconstitutional

TSA Searches Challenged as Unconstitutional

After the opt-out mass protest didn’t quite garner the attention, or changes, privacy advocates hoped for, two Harvard law students have decided to take action by filing a federal lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration over the use of body scanners and enhanced pat-down techniques.

The suit, fled in the District Court of Massachusetts, claims the acts are unconstitutional violations of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.  The suit seeks a permanent injunction against the use of either screening method unless the TSA has either reasonable suspicion or probable cause directed at a specific individual.  The suit also seeks a declaratory judgment that the mandatory screening methods are unconstitutional in the absence of either reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

The TSA has not commented on the litigation.

This is not the only lawsuit connected with the new security measures.  At least two other suits have been filed by passengers, one in Florida and one in Arkansas.  Two commercial airline pilots have also sued, challenging the constitutionality of the searches.

Despite the existence of the suits and some resistance to the new procedures, these are not necessarily slam-dunk constitutional arguments.  The searches are generally considered “administrative searches” rather than police searches and therefore require a lower level of suspicion to maintain their constitutionality.  Administrative searches need only be “reasonable” in order to pass constitutional muster.  When pressed in district courts so far the courts have sided with the agency conducting the search.

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photo courtesy of mrbill via Flickr

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101 comments

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8:59AM PST on Dec 23, 2010

I mean I don't agree who exchange their invasion of privacy for freedom. It is not ok. The full-body scanner or the pat downs. No one should be arrested or delayed or suspected of being a terrorist just because they refuse to comply with that stupid rule for searches or strip searches....

8:57AM PST on Dec 23, 2010

Great news but still a long way to go. This paranoid government.... invasion of privacy like Big Brother is Watching You..... almost becomng like a totalitarian/dictatorship govt.... Enough is enough. Someone has to stand up for what's right and I don't agree people who accept this TSA technique and say they "have nothing to hide" or have no problem with it...

2:10PM PST on Dec 18, 2010

I'm glad it's finally being challenged in court. I refuse to fly at all until this stupidity is ended once and for all.

8:54PM PST on Dec 14, 2010

How awful is this? What about unwanted evasion of our own bodies Phooey!!!!!!!

8:23AM PST on Dec 14, 2010

Cheri why do you think congress and the like get a pass, and the circle of friends they run with? Do the likes of Gates have to do the same? Anybody who travels to China do they have these machines in place? Or is it just Americans and the Western world subject to this madness? Now they are using the same trucks that were in the m.e. in our streets why? Are we strap-ping theses things on us here?

12:50AM PST on Dec 14, 2010

I just read today that scientists at the Center for National studies in Los Almoes New Mexico discovered that the naked scanners put out something called Thz that scatter your DNA. So what does that do,in time it will kill you. First your dignity,then your health and in time your life.And it only takes a flip switch to make your naked picture in full color. The way they were doing it before worked just fine,dogs work great,there is no need for these death scannners and horrible pat downs. I will no longer be flying but then,its going to be at the busses,trains,concerts,and for what. Power and money and most of all,control of the American people. Stand together and say NO!!!!

10:26PM PST on Dec 12, 2010

Have we all forgotten (never heard?) that in the 1920's & 30's the Gestapo was busy finding out who would go along with their program. Who is willing to go along with the program? Whether it be to feed their family, keep a roof over their head or a personal power trip. What are TSA agents doing today and why? Who would want their jobs? Why is anyone still flying in the US today? To see family, to go to a funeral, for business or pleasure? Doesn't anyone understand that if I don't buy an airline ticket, and you don't buy an airline ticket somebody important is not going to get a dividend check and the wealthy have the power to stop this nonsense?

11:34AM PST on Dec 12, 2010

If using the scanners or pat-downs, allows us back into the waiting areas with the ones who are leaving, then I'm all for it. But, if it doesn't, then what good is it? People will Always find a way to something onto the plane. And the TSA is usually many steps behind it. Going to the airport has become a "chore". I remember when we used to be able to wait with our loved ones/friends at the gate terminal until they left. Now, it is an impersonal, robotic, most times chaotic time just dropping people off. Does anyone remember waiting in the terminal for their loved ones/friends to come off the plane? I miss those too. So, if they allow us back in, I'll do the scanner or "groping" to make flying a personal family thing again. Even the added wait for such a thing I would be willing to do.

1:21AM PST on Dec 11, 2010

Thanks to the Harvard students pressing this issue. I've been saying it's unconstitutional, not just on unreasonable search and seizure, but also on the presumption that with the forced pat downs and such, we are being labeled as terrorists. When did they forget we are innocent until proven guilty? If being an American traveling to see family is a safety issue, this country is becoming un-American.

5:52PM PST on Dec 10, 2010

@ Tracey W. Thanks. I have said all along, where are the dogs. Dogs can and have been fine tuned trained to discover these things. And, yes a whole lot cheaper. Wake up people. There is something far bigger going on here than security.

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