Color me surprised to read what happened on Friday when Virginian Aaron Tobey won his lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA and about 5 other people. Tobey had written an abridged version of the 4th Amendment on his chest and had stripped down to his shorts when he was going through airport security at the Richmond International Airport back in 2010.
Tobey didn’t want to go through the advanced imaging technology X-ray machines (naked body scanners) that are now almost ubiquitous at airports nationwide. Instead, when it was his turn to be screened, he was going to opt for an intrusive pat-down, and removed most of his clothing in the process. (TPJ As a side note I always opt out of the naked body scanners.)
As you can see in the photograph, Aaron had written “Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated”. What came next is not surprising at all, and that was the TSA handcuffed and held Aaron for 90 minutes.
On Friday Aaron won the trial in his lawsuit seeking $250,000 in damages for being detained on a disorderly conduct charge.
According to the opinion by the Judge Rodger Gregory
Here, Mr. Tobey engaged in a silent, peaceful protest using the text of our Constitution—he was well within the ambit of First Amendment protections. And while it is tempting to hold that First Amendment rights should acquiesce to national security in this instance, our Forefather Benjamin Franklin warned against such a temptation by opining that those ‘who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ We take heed of his warning and are therefore unwilling to relinquish our First Amendment protections—even in an airport.
I am very surprised to hear the outcome of this case by heartened by the result and the hat tip to one of our founding fathers. If more judges would rely on this original intent of the Constitution and the wise instructions of our historical forebears we would all live in a better place. Kudos to Judge Gregory.
But even more credit goes to Aaron Tobey. It is acts like this that take true courage and are how we should all aspire to act in the face of Tyranny.