Aaron Tobey wins battle in lawsuit against the TSA

Aaron Tobey, the 1st and 4th Amendment hero who got arrested for speech — silent speech, as you can see in the photograph — has won his lawsuit a battle in his lawsuit against the TSA.

Those of you who remember Aaron Tobey know that he was unlawfully detained by the TSA at Richmond International Airport in 2010 because when he declined to go through the scanner and opted for a pat-down, he stripped down to his skivvies, thus showing that he had nothing to hide.

But as we know, it’s not about whether you have something to hide. The so-called security process is about compelling obedience. About putting you in your place. The fact that Tobey had the — gasp! — 4th Amendment written on his chest made the blue-shirted wonders even more angry.

Remember, the TSA isn’t law enforcement and has no law enforcement authority — they’re required to call the police if they get their knickers in a twist. Aaron Tobey was detained, in handcuffs, for 90 minutes. And “interrogated”:

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.”

That’s right — because obviously anybody who goes around quoting that seditious document, the U.S. Constitution, clearly has some terroristy intent.

The Richmond-area prosecutor wisely dropped all charges against Tobey back when this incident happened. But Tobey, god bless him, didn’t stop there. He brought suit against the TSA claiming his civil liberties were violated and sought $250,000 in damages and legal fees.

 “[I]t is crystal clear,” the court wrote, “that the First Amendment protects peaceful nondisruptive speech in an airport, and that such speech cannot be suppressed solely because the government disagrees with it.”

Though Tobey won his suit has won this phase of his battle, he still has to overcome more hurdles before the lawsuit is completed. One judge dissented in the recent decision; read his rejection of civil liberties here.

Here are more people who’ve tried to fight the TSA, in various ways, and who’ve both won and lost.

Bravo, Aaron Tobey! Another hero in the mold of John Brennan. And bravo to John Whitehead and the lawyers of the Rutherford Institute, who helped Tobey in his case. No word yet from the Rutherford Institute on what Tobey’s next step is.

(Photo: our tax dollars)

  • Ray

    LOVE it! I want to do this someday 😀

  • Russ Matthess

    This is totally off TSA has no arrest authority. If he was handcuffed and detained it was the airport police not the TSA who took action. He really needs to sue the police not the TSA for arresting him based on his peaceful right to protest and right to express his grievances with the government.

  • Slight correction: This case has yet to go to trial. A lower court had dismissed the charges against the TSA agents for the Fourth and Fourteenth amendment claims, but left the TSA agents on the hook for First amendment violations. What Tobey and his lawyers have won is a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling affirming the lower court ruling, so that the case against the TSA agents will be heard in a trial.


    • Susan Richart

      Thanks, Sommer. I was wondering why I couldn’t find a settlement amount. So he has one more hurdle to overcome. Has he asked for trial by jury or in front of a judge only?

    • Thanks, Sommer. Good thing I’m not a lawyer. I obviously got excited by the Wired headline. Will correct text with strike-throughs so people in the future can follow what we’re talking about.

      • The default headline when this story is shared on FB still reads “Aaron Tobey wins lawsuit against the TSA” – that is badly misleading.

        • I got in touch with the person who takes care of the FB page; it’s been fixed.