Airport search decisions and selectees' speech
bobsheridan at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 11 11:42:21 PDT 2007
Apparently my sad attempt at a bit of deadpan humor was a bit too
dead. I'm so glad I didn't ask members of the list if they'd heard
whether the screeners used a flashlight to determine whether the
professor was hiding a pen somewhere.
On Apr 11, 2007, at 9:22 AM, Volokh, Eugene wrote:
> 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
>> 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.
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> Please note that messages sent to this large list cannot be viewed
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