(Friday’s Populist Capitalist Blog Post)
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
-Fourth Amendment, Constitution of the United States of America
TSA Searches Based upon Narrow Constitutional Exception
Ever wonder how a free people can be patted down, forced to spread their arms and legs, even go thru x-ray type machines that produce a body view so graphic that you are viewed virtually naked? Well, it is a pretty specific exception to the Fourth Amendment that is theoretically strictly limited to a search for weapons and explosives, to insure your personal safety and that of your fellow passengers. It is upon the narrowness of the purpose of the search that it passes constitutional muster.
Organizations being what they are, like to grow and expand, increase their size and authority. This is known as mission creep. Plus, certain “command and control” mentalities just like to have authority, enjoy being in charge and ordering others around. Sorry to say but I’ve seen it so often. There are some people who just get a charge out of enforcing rules whether the rules have any real purpose or not, or even whether the application of the rule really helps in the specific circumstance. These are the “rules are rules” folks. Me, I’m a “live and let live” kind of guy, a firm believer in “rules are for the guidance of the wise and the blind obedience of fools.” This, of course, drives the command and control types literally wild. When I suggest that it is a good idea to learn the rules (and their underlying purpose) well so that you can break them intelligently, you can just see smoke coming out the ears of the authoritarian types.
Federal Judge Rules TSA Violates Fourth Amendment Rights
The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is now training screeners to look for more than weapons and explosives, attempting to turn airport security searches into generalized searches. TSA has questioned travelers about the amount of cash they are carrying, their employment, the purpose of their trip, even threatening citizens with arrest for challenging their authority to ask such intrusive questions (see New York Times, July 2, 2009, “Is Tougher Airport Screening Going Too Far?”). Personally, I travel when and where I want and the why is no business of anyone but me, especially that of Big Brother. A TSA agent recently testified that they were trained to “be alert for anything that might be unlawful … to possess, such as credit cards belonging to other people.” My wife’s name is different from mine and she travels with my credit card. She grew up in a totalitarian country, a dictatorship, a police state. She is rather sensitive about her freedoms, her privacy. Quite frankly, her natural reaction to being interrogated about carrying my credit card would be to tell the authorities it was none of their business. In a truly free country, the question would probably never be asked. In the America of today it would probably land her in a holding cell. Yeah, we’d probably win the lawsuit but that is not the way it should be.