Airport Security vs. The Constitution

Government critics deserve their day in court.

A. Barton Hinkle
Reason Magazine

You wouldn’t think Aaron Tobey and Donald Rumsfeld have much in common. Tobey is the guy who stripped down to his shorts at the Richmond, Virginia airport last December. Rumsfeld is the former Defense Secretary under George W. Bush. Tobey, who was protesting the invasive airport screening practices that have outraged a good portion of the traveling public, is a stickler for constitutional rights. Rumsfeld? Not so much.

The two of them, however, are united by a common case: Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents. The other day a federal appeals court said two Americans who claimed to have been tortured by U.S. armed forces in Iraq can sue Rumsfeld for violating their constitutional rights. The court relied on the Bivens precedent. Bivens just happens to be the hook Tobey is hanging his hat on in his lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole.

Basically, the 1971 Supreme Court ruling in Bivens says you can seek monetary damages for the violation of your constitutional rights. That’s what Tobey is doing, with the help of the Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute.

To paraphrase Kevin Bacon in A Few Good Men: These are the facts of the case, and they are almost entirely undisputed…

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