John Brennan, the “Naked American Hero” who took off all his clothes at a TSA checkpoint at the Portland, Oregon, airport to show that he wasn’t carrying any weapons or explosives and in protest of the TSA’s practices, has finally gotten a chance to defend himself in court after more than three years of legal and administrative water torture.
But he needs your help to mount the strongest possible challenge to the TSA, and he’s launched an online crowdfunding appeal for a portion of his legal costs.
The TSA’s first line of attack on Mr. Brennan was, in accordance with TSA standard operating procedures, to call the local police. And the cops, as is equally standard, arrested Mr. Brennan on the TSA’s say-so, and only after the fact came up with a charge (“indecent exposure”) to justify the arrest. But there was nothing “indecent” about the way Mr. Brennan had exposed himself, and a Portland judge acquitted Mr. Brennan of all criminal charges on the grounds that Mr. Brennan’s action was an act of politically expressive conduct protected by Oregon law and the First Amendment.
Unable to get Mr. Brennan convicted of any crime, the TSA put Mr. Brennan through an elaborate administrative proceeding that ended with the TSA deciding to fine him $500 for “interfering” with the TSA by taking off his clothes.
Only after the completion of the TSA’s internal administrative process was Mr. Brennan allowed to ask a court to consider whether the TSA’s proposed fine would violate his First Amendment rights. And that challenge has to be made in the first instance in a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals — an expensive and high-risk legal forum only one step below the US Supreme Court.
Mr. Brennan has petitioned the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to review whether the TSA violated his Constitutional rights by trying to fine him for expressive conduct that was protected by the First Amendment and that didn’t actually interfere with the TSA at all. (On the contrary, his nakedness made it easier for the TSA staff to tell whether Mr. Brennan was carrying weapons or explosives.)
Mr. Brennan is now waiting to find out whether the 9th Circuit will decide his case on the basis of his written submissions and those of the TSA, or will schedule oral argument before making its decision.
Considering the importance of the case, Mr. Brennan’s appeal for $15,000 in partial payment of his legal expenses is modest. And did we mention that he was unjustly fired for exercising his First Amendment right to protest the TSA, on his own time, in a way that had no impact on his ability to do his job?
John Brennan needs our help to defend our rights.
If you wish you had the balls to strip naked (and keep your cool completely while doing so!) when the TSA tells you you’ve tested positive (falsely) for explosive residues, and they want to put their hands in your pants, here’s your chance to support someone who stood up and stripped down for all of us.