The wheels of justice are frozen

by Wendy Thomson on December 20, 2012


While lawsuits continue to be filed against the TSA on a variety of fronts, generally the TSA has been successful in foiling any and all efforts to make it accountable or to even reveal its statistics. Also, generally, the TSA does this by sheer obfuscation and technicality. I must admit, that is a strategy. However, without the antagonist tiring and simply going away, that strategy usually eventually fails.

A brief history here: there have been many individual lawsuits agains the TSA and its procedures: Blitz, Corbett, Ventura, Thomson, Tobey, Kassner, Redfern, Fielder, Dean, in addition to others that were filed via civil liberties organizations on behalf of individuals, such as The Rutherford Institute and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Most of these cases were dismissed when the TSA successfully argued that Federal District Courts, where these cases were filed, lacked jurisdiction. Apparently, the first stop is the Federal Appellate Court, since the TSA holds that all of the arguments concern TSA procedures, not Constitutional issues. If you were to go out and investigate how to file in Federal District Court, the instructions and forms are easy to find. I challenge you to find similar information on the Federal Appellate Court.

So now comes the case of Redfern and Pradhan vs. Napolitano and Pistole. The case was initially dismissed by Federal District (Massachusetts) Court Judge Casper, but the First District Appellate Court has since asked to hear Fourth Amendment arguments. For the first time in history, a Federal judge has cut through the fog and understood that the issue is far greater than what the TSA claims. Now all that has to happen is that the Court agrees that simply relying on TSA data without any independent fact-finding is not in the best interest of justice.

Freedom to Travel USA filed an amicus brief in that lawsuit, asking the Court to fact-find on actual procedures and experiences before ruling. That brief heavily relies on Blackburn v. Snow, in which a court struck down mandatory strip-searches of all visitors to a prison as being overkill given the level of threat presented.

And now comes Corbett. In the latest of a string of lawsuits, the TSA is pleading that their records should be the only records admitted – even though a recent study by the Government Accountability Office indicated that TSA customer complaint procedures are “inefficient and possibly blinding it to problems.” Hopefully this fog will also be lifted. What’s amazing is that these claims and assertions by the TSA are even offered.

‘Tis a mad, mad world in TSA-land. The Queen of Hearts and her henchmen must eventually be seen as what they are. Let’s all come back up the rabbit hole; Wonderland isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

(Photo: Emmanuel Huybrechts/Flickr Creative Commons)

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