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Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial Over Airport Arrest

tobeyWired – by DAVID KRAVETS

A Virginia man who wrote an abbreviated version of the Fourth Amendment on his body and stripped to his shorts at an airport security screening area won a trial Friday in his lawsuit seeking $250,000 in damages for being detained on a disorderly conduct charge.

Aaron Tobey claimed in a civil rights lawsuit(.pdf) that in 2010 he was handcuffed and held for about 90 minutes by the Transportation Security Administration at the Richmond International Airport after he began removing his clothing to display on his chest a magic-marker protest of airport security measures.

“Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,” his chest and gut read.

In sending the case to trial, unless there’s a settlement, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 and reversed a lower court judge and invoked Benjamin Franklin in the process. According to the opinion by Judge Roger Gregory:

Here, Mr. Tobey engaged in a silent, peaceful protest using the text of our Constitution—he was well within the ambit of First Amendment protections. And while it is tempting to hold that First Amendment rights should acquiesce to national security in this instance, our Forefather Benjamin Franklin warned against such a temptation by opining that those ‘who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ We take heed of his warning and are therefore unwilling to relinquish our First Amendment protections—even in an airport.

Tobey didn’t want to go through the advanced imaging technology X-ray machines, or so-called nude body scanners, that were cropping up at airports nationwide. Instead, when it was his turn to be screened, he was going to opt for an intrusive pat-down, and removed most of his clothing in the process.

Among other things, the federal lawsuit claimed wrongful detention and a breach of the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment. Tobey was on his way to Wisconsin for his grandmother’s funeral. Despite his detainment, he made his flight.

According to the suit, while under interrogation, the authorities wanted to know “about his affiliation with, or knowledge of, any terrorist organizations, if he had been asked to do what he did by any third party, and what his intentions and goals were.”

Two weeks later, Henrico County prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor charge against him, and he sued the Transportation Security Administration and others.

In dissent, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote:

Had this protest been launched somewhere other than in the security-screening area, we would have a much different case. But Tobey’s antics diverted defendants from their passenger-screening duties for a period, a diversion that nefarious actors could have exploited to dangerous effect. Defendants responded as any passenger would hope they would, summoning local law enforcement to remove Tobey—and the distraction he was creating — from the scene.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/01/4th-amendment-chest-trial/

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8 Responses to Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial Over Airport Arrest

  1. diggerdan says:

    Mr. Tobey had a good idea. more travelers should maybe think about doing that. I am glad but suprised that he won his lawsuit.

  2. # 1 NWO Hatr says:

    A novel concept, to say the least.

    I’m glad he won too, digger.

  3. jerome says:

    In dissent, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote:

    Had this protest been launched somewhere other than in the security-screening area, we would have a much different case. But Tobey’s antics diverted defendants from their passenger-screening duties for a period, a diversion that nefarious actors could have exploited to dangerous effect. Defendants responded as any passenger would hope they would, summoning local law enforcement to remove Tobey—and the distraction he was creating — from the scene.

    AS MUCH DISTRACTION AS A MAN SCREENING FOR HIS LIFE AS COPS TASER HIM TO DEATH WHILE EVERYONE IS WATCHING HIM COMPLY.

  4. Jim says:

    Good to see one young man who put himself in harms way by standing up for our constitution. We need millions more like him. If they all win their lawsuits we could possibly bankrupt the government. Oops, too late for that already.

  5. TxCntryMan says:

    Glad to hear he won…. I have a plan to do something similar if I am ever required to fly again…. Long coat removal to be “dressed” in a very skimpy male g-string…. I will not subject myself to the scanners, or groping by the perv’s in the TSA!

  6. The Witness says:

    Is it just possible that because the “NOTICE” that was written “ON” his body was the reason that he won.
    Him being a sentient being (natural person) and not a corporate fiction was undeniable as the statement was written on him and not just on a piece of paper handed to the “authorities” that they could deny.
    He was noticing them that he was not mere chattel.
    Way to go Tobey!

  7. M.Bonham says:

    God Bless him. Horrible that a young man has to be treated like that in his own country. I’m sure he’d be told he’s good enough to go die in one of the blood-for-profit wars but they won’t respect him or anyone else in the airport. I was born in 1959 – I remember a much different country.

  8. desertspeaks says:

    well our government often times can be described as a terrorist organization and I refuse to be affiliated with them!

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