Airport Security Measures: Privacy and Profiling Lawyers
In recent years Airport Security has become a hot topic and issue of debate in government and with the general public. At the heart of the debate are privacy issues and racial profiling. With the passing of the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act the issue has been further amplified.
What is the Fourth Amendment Administrative Search Doctrine?
It has long been established that passengers have a Fourth Amendment privacy interest in their carry-on bags and luggage. However, administrative searches are allowed with little or no individualized probable cause that the person being searched is dangerous. That is, searches done to further administrative goals, such as security, rather than to secure evidence of a crime, may be allowed under the Fourth Amendment. Under this doctrine, the government must establish a compelling need to search, that the search will serve the need, and that the decision to search a particular person is not left to the discretion of a field officer.
How does Equal Protection Relate to Racial Profiling?
The Equal Protection Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments provide that the government shall not "make or enforce any law which shall deny to any person equal protection of the Laws". The courts have identified race, religion, and national origin as suspect classifications that trigger equal protection analysis. According to the FAA, the criteria used in profiling at the airport do not involve such classifications.
Do I need State Action to Bring Suit?
In general, in order for a person's rights to have been violated, they must demonstrate that there was state action. Courts have ruled that private airline employees are no different from public officials when conducting a search.
Profiling and Limits on the Administrative Search Doctrine
Profiling and follow-up searches resemble existing security searches because they serve the same administrative function: keeping dangerous people and items off of aircraft. However, by limiting the searches to only certain individuals, profiling approaches the forbidden line between administrative and criminal searches. Thus, it fails to satisfy either of the second two elements of the administrative search doctrine - strict limitation to non-criminal purposes and freedom from discretion of officers in the field.
What Are the Problems with Making a Profiling Argument?
Profiling is inherently impossible to monitor by the public or by either legislative or judicial authorities. The same information that the public or Congress would need to engage in an informed debate about profiling could be used by terrorists to evade the profiles.
Do I Need the Assistance of a Constitutional Law Attorney?
The Fourth Amendment is notoriously confusing, particularly as it applies to airport luggage searches and racial profiling, and it's best to consult an attorney regarding the privacy rights that the Constitution demands. Courts, police, and scholars have struggled in applying constitutional doctrines underlying the Fourth Amendment. A good attorney will help you make the best argument possible regarding your Fourth Amendment rights.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 11-29-2010 01:52 PM PST
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