Tuesday, 21 March 2006
Wired News on airport searches
[A] federal court ruled that airline passengers who enter the airport screening process cannot change their minds once they're singled out for a more extensive search.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (.pdf) that travelers who walk through the airport metal detector implicitly consent to a search of their persons and bags, and they can't revoke that consent once the process has started.
The ruling moves domestic security policy closer to the rules that govern international border crossings, according to travel expert Edward Hasbrouck.
"Once you have attempted to cross the border, you are committed to a search of your person, up to and including sequestering you in a room for 72 hours while they examine your (feces) for bags of heroin. This case seems to be applying more and more a similar argument."
Perhaps the most notable thing about the case, US v. Aukai, was the number of interesting and potential significant issues that the defendant/appellant's lawyers didn't raise. According to the 9th Circuit opinion, Aukai's counsel didn't question whether a more intrusive search of anyone who doesn't present ID credentials is objectively related to the likelihood of finding weapons or explosives.
They didn't question the credibility of the signs, posted in the name of the Transportation Security Administration, saying that all passengers are subject to search -- even though these are the same signs that say that all passengers must present ID, which Aukai knew was false because he was being allowed to proceed without ID. I'm mystified as to what form of divination the government expected Aukai to rely on to detemine which statements on the sign were false, and which had to be obeyed. But sadly, we won't learn that from this case, and more than we did from the same court's decision earlier this year in Gilmore v. Gonzales.
Perhaps most significantly, Aukai's counsel allowed the appeals court to presume the applicability of prior decisons that the First Amendment freedom to travel and fredom to assemble are not implicated by restrictions on air travel, because there are always alternatives to air travel. But this case involved an inter-island flight from Honolulu to Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, where there is no commerical passenger service other than by air.
A case of many missed opportunities.Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 21:03 ( 9:03 PM) | TrackBack (0)