While trying to sell his wasteful, high-speed rail initiative during his State of the Union address last Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama joked that “it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down.”
Showing how superficial and out of touch they are, President Obama and members of Congress laughed at the line. Forgive me, Mr. President, if I do not follow suit; violations of the Constitution are not a laughing matter.
For the last year, the Transportation Security Administration has been engaging in a war on the civil liberties of Americans; forcing us to submit to intrusive pat-downs and full-body scans, in order to do nothing more than travel on vacation or head out of town on a business trip.
At least some people are fighting back.
Stemming from an incident at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in November, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura is suing the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA’s parent agency, for infringing on his personal rights by subjecting him to an invasive manual pat-down.
Unable to go through a metal detector due to titanium implant from hip replacement surgery, Ventura claims in his lawsuit he had been in the past subjected to a magnetic-wand inspection. However, this time he was forced to go through a pat-down, in which he was subjected to “warrantless, non-suspicion-based offensive touching, gripping and rubbing of the genital and other sensitive areas of his body.” His lawyer, David Olsen of Minneapolis, says the wrestler-turned-politician believes, “someone needs to make a stand and he’s not one to back down from a fight.”
The TSA claims these invasive methods are absolutely necessary to keep us safe – a questionable assertion at best; and one that, even if true, does not provide an appropriate basis on which to violate the Fourth Amendment’s clear prohibition on such searches if carried out in the absence of reasonable suspicion. Moreover, such measures are desensitizing us to government intrusions; making us more willing to permit violations of our personal rights and liberties to go unchallenged.
Rather than making its procedures more reasonable, the TSA is digging in its heels, and even limiting the options available to airports to choose private security firms over the controversial government-run agency.
The Obama Administration has made clear its intent to push these tactics down our throats. Thankfully, there are people like Jesse Ventura and the Opt-Outers, who have been pushing back against those making jokes out of basic constitutional protections. Ventura in the long run may not win his lawsuit, but at least he’ll go down swinging; and perhaps embolden others as a result.
- by Bob Barr, The Barr Code