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Pat Downs Restrained in Tampa!

The Tampa Sports Authority (TSA) had a policy of conducting pat down searches of every attendee at Tampa Bay Buccaneers games – pursuant to a request by the Bucs themselves. A season ticket holder sued the Authority, arguing that these searches violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

The court held that Fla. Const. art. I, § 12 protects the same rights as the Fourth Amendment, a protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Interestingly, and correctly, the court held that the TSA was a government actor for the purposes of Fourth Amendment analysis.

Some nice quotes from the opinion:

The Fourth Amendment embodies a value judgment by the framers of the U.S. Constitution that prevents courts from gradually trading ever-increasing amounts of freedom and privacy for additional security. It establishes searches based on evidence–rather than potentially effective, broad prophylactic dragnets–as the constitutional norm.

And if only this one could make its way into mainstream thinking…

A generalized fear of terrorism should not diminish the fundamental Fourth Amendment protection envisioned by our Founding Fathers. Our Constitution requires more.

See Johnson v. Tampa Sports Authority, 442 F.Supp.2d 1257 (M.D.Fla. 2006).

This case discussed elsewhere:

  1. Sports Law Blog entry on Johnson v. TSA
  2. ACLU press release
  3. The order itself, courtesy of the ACLU
  4. The Sporting News
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