Judge Throws Out Suit Over Airport Screening

     (CN) – A Miami federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that claims enhanced pat downs and full-body scans at airport checkpoints are unconstitutional.

     In September 2010, the Transportation Security Administration issued a new screening procedure that allows TSA agents to use enhanced pat downs and Advanced Imaging Technology to search potential passengers at airport checkpoints. In airports where body scans and pat downs are available, passengers must submit to one or the other form of search to gain entry to boarding areas.
     Jonathan Corbett sued the government, seeking to permanently enjoin the use of body scans and enhanced pat downs at U.S. airports. In his November 2010 complaint, Corbett asserted that the 2010 TSA procedures violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches, since they required TSA agents to touch the passengers’ private areas and allowed them to see clear images of the passengers’ nude bodies.
     Corbett claimed that “the abstract risk[s] of terrorism without a credible, specific threat” did not justify the unreasonable screening procedures, which are performed without probable cause or a search warrant.
     The government argued that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the challenge, since only federal appeals courts can rule on TSA orders.
     U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke agreed. “Since plaintiff’s claim squarely attacks a TSA order or regulation concerning airport security, this court does not have jurisdiction to hear the challenge,” Cooke wrote.          The court declined to address Corbett’s argument that the screening procedures do not constitute an “order” under the federal regulations, and directed Corbett to address his argument to either the 11th Circuit in Atlanta or the D.C. Circuit in Washington.

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