Aaron Tobey of Virginia sued in federal court and won:
Aaron Tobey claimed in a civil rights lawsuit (.pdf) that in 2010 he was handcuffed and held for about 90 minutes by the Transportation Security Administration at the Richmond International Airport after he began removing his clothing to display on his chest a magic-marker protest of airport security measures.
“Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,” his chest and gut read.
In sending the case to trial, unless there’s a settlement, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 and reversed a lower court judge and invoked Benjamin Franklin in the process. According to the opinion by Judge Roger 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.
Hopefully more young adults will take the torch and push back. They are our best hope to defeat a tyrannical government. The lawmakers, regulators and enforcers should be very wary of what is coming from the agitated young adults if they do not back off their brown shirt jackboot tactics against common citizens.
Tobey is a true American patriot and hero. He stood up for his rights, made a statement to the pat down thugs while doing so and was arrested for exercising his Constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Huffington Post reports:
A police officer can’t pull you over and arrest you just because you gave him the finger, a federal appeals court declared Thursday.
In a 14-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”
John Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz had sued two police officers who arrested Swartz in May 2006 after he flipped off an officer who was using a radar device at an intersection in St. Johnsville, N.Y. Swartz was later charged with a violation of New York’s disorderly conduct statute, but the charges were dismissed on speedy trial grounds.
A federal judge in the Northern District of New York granted summary judgement to the officers in July 2011, but the Court of Appeals on Thursday erased that decision and ordered the lower court to take up the case again.
Richard Insogna, the officer who stopped Swartz and his wife when they arrived at their destination, claimed he pulled the couple over because he believed Swartz was “trying to get my attention for some reason.” The appeals court didn’t buy that explanation, ruling that the “nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.”
If you’re planning on displaying your denunciation digit with your local boys in blue, you’ll definitely want to download and print out the full ruling (PDF).