Constitutional Law

'Nude But Not Lewd' Passenger Takes It All Off for Airport Security, Faces Indecent Exposure Charge


A tech worker who took it all off for airport security at the Portland, Ore., airport is facing an indecent exposure charge.

However, John E. Brennan, 49, said he was “nude but not lewd” and argued that his act of protest—he said he removed everything only after walking through a metal detector and undergoing a pat-down failed to satisfy Transportation Security Administration agents—qualifies as protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, reports the Associated Press.

It appears that he may have some case law on his side:

Citing state appeals court precedent, a Multnomah County judge has said that unclothed cyclists in an annual Naked Bike Ride, in which Brennan told the news agency he has also participated, should not be arrested simply because they are nude. At issue, based on the facts of each individual case, is whether the nudity is for the purpose of sexual gratification or is a form of “symbolic protest.”

The Crime Scene page of the San Francisco Chronicle has a photo of the incident apparently taken by a fellow passenger.

Brennan initially was charged with disorderly conduct as well, but prosecutors declined to pursue the case, reports the Daily Weekly blog of the Seattle Weekly.

“Our civil rights are being eroded slowly, and TSA is one of the ways that’s happening,” said Brennan. “I knew that I could use the power of being naked to bring visibility to that issue.”

Booked at the Multnomah County Jail after he refused repeated requests from TSA agents and airport police to put his clothes on, Brennan missed his Alaska Airlines flight to San Jose, Calif., recounts the Oregonian.

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