Constitutional Law

Experts Divided on Constitutionality of New Airport Screening Procedures

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The American Civil Liberties Union has so far collected nearly 400 complaints from travelers upset about new airport security measures that include intrusive pat-downs and revealing body scans.

The ACLU and the U.S. Travel Association are both seeking traveler feedback, and there are reports that some security personnel are aggressive and hostile, the New York Times reports. “I would be very surprised if the average American would say this is OK after going through the kind of experience we’re hearing about,” Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU, told the Times.

But legal experts are divided over whether the courts will uphold the searches. Two separate lawsuits, one filed by two pilots and the other by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, argue the new procedures are a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Criminal defense lawyer John Wesley Hall told the Times there is no reasonable suspicion to justify the pat-downs. But George Washington law professor Orin Kerr said the plaintiffs challenging the procedures may have a tough time as courts balance the intrusive searches with security needs.

“Reasonableness is a murky standard, so there’s room for a new legal challenge,” Kerr told the newspaper. “But the tenor of earlier cases is pretty deferential to the government.”

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