Update: John Brennan, TSA protester, just before his victory in criminal court. He was acquitted of indecent exposure charges related to removing his clothes at a TSA checkpoint at Portland International Airport, at Multnomah County Courthouse.
John Brennan ordered to pay $500 for TSA protest
We have an update on the case of John Brennan, the man who stripped naked at a TSA checkpoint in April of 2012. We first wrote about Brennan here. We then provided updates here, where he said he wanted a trial, and here, where he was found Not Guilty of “public indecency.” But not content with that ruling, the TSA pushed on, charging Brennan with “interefering with the screening process.” This week, a judge sided with the TSA:
WHEREFORE: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, after consideration of this record, that a violation of 49 C.F.R. § 1540.109 is found PROVED and a civil penalty in the amount of five hundred and dollars ($500) is ASSESSED.
Granted, it was a reduction of the fine the TSA wanted ($1,000), but it still doesn’t favor Brennan. The judge in the case is the Hon. George J. Jordan, a U.S. Coast Guard Administrative Law Judge (don’t ask me what the Coast Guard has to do with anything).
As Brennan reports on his aptly named Facebook page, Naked American Hero, he’s planning to appeal. From his press release of a few days ago:
. . . Brennan expects an unfavorable decision, but believes his actions will not be the cause. The Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 removes Constitutional defenses for defendants at the initial hearing phase of the legal proceeding. Said another way, jurisdiction of Federal judges for ruling on Constitutional defenses has been removed by the TSA. Mr. Brennan was using his affirmed First Amendment right to protest violations of his percieved 4th Amendment rights. If Mr. Brennan loses this round, he will appeal. TSA contends that disrobing posed a security threat. TSA videos of the event are available.
The decision on the civil charges of interfering with the screening process arrives nearly two years after Mr. Brennan’s protest.
Thanks to Jeff Pierce of Freedom to Travel USA (FTTUSA) for alerting me to this development.
Naked American Hero Explains Situation and His Next Steps
For those following along, which is likely all of you, the upcoming decision from the judge in the TSA civil case is likely to reduce the fine, but keep a financial penalty in place (the equivalent of ‘guilty’ in a criminal case). In other words, I’m likely to lose this round. Why?
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 lead to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA, and in the panic from the September 11th attacks, allowed those agencies to work with weak judicial review. Part of the weakness of the review is that the Administrative Law Judges hearing cases can not consider Constitutional defenses for violation of regulations.
Although I used my First Amendment right to protest violations of my Fourth Amendment right to privacy and unreasonable searches and seizures, and the lack of probable cause, the judge who heard my case can’t consider that in his decision.
Why is it this way? So nobody can easily challenge what DHS and TSA do.
Even after this decision, I’ll still be in the realm of no Constitutional defense. Only after my next loss, which will come from the head of TSA or his designees, will I be able to be heard by a court that can consider the US Constitution in deciding the case.
All photos from Facebook.