Airport search decisions and selectees' speech
VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Wed Apr 11 09:22:57 PDT 2007
I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I quite grasp the suggestion -- is
it that carrying a book will get you searched extra carefully, on the
grounds that carrying a book is sign of thinking for oneself and
therefore suspicious? That carrying an antigovernment book will get you
searched extra carefully? That carrying a book labeled "How to Wage
Jihad" will get you searched extra carefully?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Robert Sheridan [mailto:bobsheridan at earthlink.net]
> Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 8:45 AM
> To: Volokh, Eugene
> Cc: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
> Subject: Re: Airport search decisions and selectees' speech
> Forgive me, but I don't think our gummint is clever enough by
> half to have line-clerks screen airline travelers for
> political dissidence at the point of contact, the
> take-off-your-shoes line, even if it wanted to, which I doubt it does.
> I do recall from the old days, however, a phenomenon known as
> "Hippie Probable Cause." This is where the "pigs" also known
> as your city's finest, stopped VW buses bearing peace-signs
> whose occupants stunk of burned green vegetable matter
> strongly suspected of being Mj. On tossing the vehicle you
> would be surprised at how many of these folks were found in
> actual possession of the dreaded Mj. Searches based on
> Hippie PC were disallowed by the California SC in around 1972 in P.
> v. Kellett, I believe is the name of the case; it's been
> awhile. I wondered whether the good professor was wearing
> some sign of
> dissidence, like thinking for himself, such as by carrying a book.
> That might have done it.
> On Apr 11, 2007, at 8:16 AM, Volokh, Eugene wrote:
> > Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the evidence of possible
> > political-speech-based decisionmaking in the Murphy case
> consists of
> > (1) the fact that Murphy was selected, on one leg of the
> flight, for
> > extra scrutiny coupled with the fact that he had publicly
> > the Administration, and (2) the statement by someone at the
> airport (I
> > forget -- was it a TSA agent or an airline clerk) that people
> > routinely get put on such selectee lists based on public
> criticism of
> > the Administration. I take it that #1 isn't terribly persuasive on
> > its own, since it could easily be coincidence; I take it, for
> > instance, that many members of this list have criticized the
> > Administration, including in
> > public contexts, and yet they generally fly mostly unobstructed.
> > So it
> > comes down to #2.
> > And as to #2, what is list members' sense of the
> probability of these
> > three scenarios?
> > (A) The Administration has a policy of placing Administration
> > critics on some special select-occasionally lists, and it
> > this policy to airport personnel*, even though there's no
> reason that
> > they need to know about it (since the names are presumably
> added by a
> > completely different set of people in a different place observing
> > different things).
> > (B) The policy is kept secret, as likely unconstitutional and
> > potentially highly embarrassing policies (if they exist)
> are likely to
> > be kept secret. But this particular airport employee has
> still heard
> > about it from a reliable source, and is thus knowledgeable on the
> > subject even though it's quite far outside his job description.
> > (C) The airport employee was repeating a rumor he'd
> heard -- a rumor
> > that is no more accurate than any other rumor anyone might start
> > -- or toying with Prof. Murphy or making stuff up.
> > Eugene
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