John Brennan, stripped naked to protest TSA, found Not Guilty

by Deborah Newell Tornello on July 19, 2012

John E. Brennan, the passenger who took off his clothes in response to TSA’s announcement that their machine detected nitrates and they would be searching him, was acquitted of public indecency. Encouragingly, the ruling was based on Brennan’s First Amendment right to free speech:

“It is the speech itself that the state is seeking to punish, and that it cannot do,” Circuit Judge David Rees said, agreeing with the defense that protest overrides nudity laws.

My colleague Lisa Simeone wrote about Brennan in previous posts, most recently here:

For those who can afford it [hiring an attorney and going to trial], more power to them. John Brennan is clearly one. As his lawyer said, Brennan won’t apologize because he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong.

Neither do I.

Brennan, in fact, proved that TSA procedures have nothing to do with security. If they did, he would’ve been allowed to board his flight after irrefutably demonstrating that he wasn’t harboring any weapons, explosives, or incendiaries, the only things the TSA is allowed to search for.

In other words, he was safe. He should’ve been cleared. Instead, he was arrested.

It’s heartening to see our courts supporting the First Amendment. If only there were more judges willing to stand up for the Fourth Amendment, which was enacted to protect Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures, requiring any warrant for such searches to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

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