Does nudity “interfere” with TSA “screening”?
That will be the issue at a hearing before TSA “Administrative Law Judge” George J. Jordan on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 in Portland, OR, in the matter of “Naked American Hero” John Brennan, who exercised his First Amendment right to express his political opinion by taking off all his clothes [video from TSA/airport security camera] while he was being subjected to “secondary” searching at a TSA checkpoint at the Portland airport on April 17, 2012.
The TSA calls its checkpoint staff and contractors “Transportation Screening Officers”, but they aren’t law enforcement officers and have no police powers. So when people do things they don’t like, their normal response — if bullying doesn’t work — is to call the local police. That’s what they did with Mr. Brennan in Portland. The local police arrested him and charged him with “indecent” exposure. (There is no law against public nudity per se in Portland.)
But an Oregon judge acquitted Mr. Brennan of these criminal charges, finding that Mr. Brennan’s conduct wasn’t “indecent” and was political speech protected by the Oregon constitution.
That should have been the end of the matter. But the TSA was, apparently, afraid that if Mr. Brennan wasn’t somehow punished, too many other Oregonians might start following his example.
So even though a judge had already found that Mr. Brennan’s nakedness at the TSA checkpoint was not a crime, the TSA is seeking to assess a $1,000 fine against Mr. Brennan for “interfering with screening” in violation of TSA regulations (49 CFR 1540.109).