FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - Court Says Travelers Can't Avoid Airport Searches
Old Aug 11, 07, 3:17 am
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Louisville, KY, US
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Originally Posted by law dawg View Post
I'm torn here because I understand your position and agree with it. OTOH, consent searches are defined by the consenter and consent may be withdrawn at any time, or at least up until the discovery of contraband. So why would this consent search be any different? They should be able to withdraw that consent like any other consent search, should they not?

Also, as you are consenting, anything discovered should be allowed, just as if a LEO searches your trunk looking for narcotics finds a dead body, it's allowed. And vice versa. Consent means consent to it all.
I just read PaulKarl's post and found it informative. I still haven't read the full ruling, which will likely be interesting to take a look at. The court seems to view it as a "special government needs" search.

As far as the consent issue, I believe you're giving consent to a full search once you present yourself at a checkpoint to enter a sterile area with the intent to fly. When the WTMD goes off or a bag check is called at an x-ray, you can't say stop and withdraw consent. It's all (you entering the posted security checkpoint) or none (not entering a posted checkpoint). Because of the nature of an airport, I would argue that an alarm gives immediate reason to search further because the WTMD picked something up - or a screener saw something needing further investigation on an x-ray.

As far as a motor vehicle search by a LEO, I've never encountered one other than a couple 'once off' "pop the trunk, peek under the auto with a mirror" 20 second type check entering an airport -- which I view as an "unposted" search as there is no sign saying vehicle security checkpoint - you may enter or turn around. Airports usually have signs "vehicles may be subject to search" when entering a parking structure -- I've seen temporary signs put up when the random type search I describe is done on the approach road; "Slow down - vehicle subject to search ahead".

Motor vehicles - because they move - present a different set of issues when it comes to other searches (i.e. traffic stop) vs. the search of a house or business which is a known, fixed location with physical address. There is the plain view doctrine; aside from that an officer can ask you for consent to search. I've had a five, maybe six traffic stops since getting my license at 16. It's been several years (knock on wood) since I've been stopped. Not once have I ever had an officer ask to search the vehicle. If you give consent to search a motor vehicle, anything found is fair game since there is no scope. A LEO can't run to a judge while you're pulled over and get a search warrant either.

Getting back to airport searches: It's my belief there needs to be a scope with what they're looking for now that it is carried out by the federal government. Limits need to be placed on big brother for individuals to be secure in their home or person from "illegal" searches, seizures, and fishing expeditions. I'm sick of 9/11 being used as a catch-all or justification for all types of searches, seizures, and fishing expeditions whether it be at an airport, a train station, a bus stop ... or anywhere within a public transit system. Heck, wiretap the phones and go fishing that way too.

Afterall: They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security. The DHS Motto should be "We're at a high threat level -- so why don't ya just give up your essential liberty; we're darn good at giving you a false sense of security (and a small bit of temporary security if we're lucky)"

Last edited by SDF_Traveler; Aug 11, 07 at 3:36 am
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