A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed most of the constitutional claims raised by a Charlottesville man who was arrested after stripping down to his running shorts during an airport checkpoint protest…
False imprisonment and malicious prosecution claims against three Richmond International Airport police officers were not included in the motions for dismissal.
Aaron Tobey, 21, was detained at an airport security checkpoint on Dec. 30 after partially disrobing to display part of the text of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment handwritten on his chest. Tobey says he was protesting security measures, including enhanced pat-downs and the use of whole-body imaging scanners that he believes violate the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
…Judge Henry E. Hudson also rejected the equal protection and search-and-seizure claims against the TSA screening officers who summoned police, but said it was premature to dismiss the free-speech claim…
“The question, then, is whether the TSOs in fact radioed for assistance because of the message Plaintiff sought to convey, as opposed to Plaintiff’s admittedly bizarre behavior or because of some other reasonable restriction on First Amendment activity in the security screening area,” Hudson wrote.
The president of The Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville-based civil liberties group that filed the lawsuit on Tobey’s behalf, said the answer to that question is clear.
“Aaron Tobey was arrested for exercising his right to free speech, which is clearly protected under the First Amendment,” John W. Whitehead said after Hudson issued his ruling.
Tobey, a University of Cincinnati student at the time of the arrest, staged the protest as he prepared to board a flight to Wisconsin to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Disorderly conduct charges were later dropped by the Henrico County prosecutor.
You can’t always fight City Hall. I recommend against trying it alone. But, I applaud those who use their Constitutional rights to free speech to do so. The TSA – like most Homeland Insecurity mutants – stinks on ice for limiting our freedom to travel while achieving next to nothing at providing safety and security for air travelers.