Jul 15 2011

Appeals Court rules TSA rules require prior notice and public comment

Today a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously ruled that the TSA deployment of virtual strip-search machines is subject to the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act for formal notice and an opportunity for public comment before it is put into effect.

[T]he TSA has advanced no justification for having failed to conduct a notice-and-comment rulemaking. We therefore remand this matter to the agency for further proceedings. Because vacating the present rule would severely disrupt an essential security operation, however, … we shall not vacate the rule, but we do nonetheless expect the agency to act promptly on remand to cure the defect in its promulgation.

The ruling came in a lawsuit by EPIC based on a petition for rulemaking in which the Identity Project had joined.

The logic of the decision would appear to apply equally to other requirements imposed on travelers at TSA checkpoints, including any mandate for travelers to identify themselves:

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