Marta Searches?

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by Malum Prohibitum, Aug 12, 2006.

  1. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

    Is this coming to Atlanta? ... RK-DC.html

    Court rules NY police can search bags at subways

    Aug 11, 4:34 PM (ET)

    By Christine Kearney

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Random bag searches by New York police at subway stations are constitutional and an effective means of combating terrorism, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

    "In light of the thwarted plots to bomb New York City's subway system, its continued desirability as a target, and the recent bombings of transportation systems in Madrid, Moscow, and London, the risk to public safety is substantial and real," the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling.

    The court disagreed with the New York Civil Liberties Union, which last year sued the city claiming that the random bag searches police have conducted since July 2005 bombings on the London underground rail system were unconstitutional and would not deter an attack on America's largest subway system.

    The NYCLU had argued the searches were ineffective as police had too few checkpoints and invaded privacy rights. But the court said the testimony of three counterterrorism experts showed the value of the searches.

    "The expert testimony established that terrorists seek predictable and vulnerable targets, and the program generates uncertainty that frustrates that goal, which in turn, deters and attack," the court said.

    Among the experts who testified were Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism chief, who said he believed most U.S. transit systems were "under protected."

    The judges noted the importance of the experts' belief that the unpredictability of the searches "deters both a single-bomb attack and an attack consisting of multiple, synchronized bombings, such as those in London and Madrid."

    While the court agreed the searches compromised riders' privacy, "the kind of search at issue here minimally intrudes upon that interest" because the random searches were limited to bags that could contain explosives and last only seconds.

    The judges noted that New York's subway system had been a "prime target" in the past, including a 1997 plot to bomb Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue subway station and 2004 plot to bomb the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan.

    "Because this program authorizes police searches of all subway riders without any suspicion of wrongdoing, we continue to believe it raises fundamental constitutional questions," said New York Civil Liberties Union lawyer Chris Dunn.

    New York City's law department noted the court's decision followed Thursday's news of a terrorist plot in Britain to detonate bombs on passenger planes traveling to the United States.

    "The program -- whose constitutionality two federal courts have now recognized -- enhances the safety of millions of New York City subway riders," said Kate O'Brien Ahlers, spokeswoman for the city law department.
  2. merlock

    merlock Active Member


    Now they can really step up the searches of blue-haired grannies. :shakehead:


  3. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

    Is it really the law in the 2nd Circuit that the reasonableness of a search is dependent on the effectiveness of the search?

    Wouldn't random traffic stops be effective against drunk driving?

    Wouldn't random home searches be effective against drugs?
  4. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

    Two Comments

    I had always thought that while transit authority cops, and airline security screeners, cannot FORCE the bag out of your hands or make you open it for inspection against your will, they CAN deny you access to the transportation terminal in question if you do not submit. I had always thought that if I suddenly decided to zealously stand on my rights and refuse to be searched, scanned, wanded, etc., then I could, but then I would have to leave the property without catching my bus or flight. Assuming, of course, that the screeners / security personnel have no information about you. No probable cause, no reasonable suspicion, etc. No individualized information about you that would distinguish you from any member of the general public.

    Was I wrong? Or is this still an option?

    Second comment:

    Instead of the courts saying that the Fourth Amendment is not violated by random suspicionless searches of people traveling in the normal manner as people routinely travel on a daily basis, how about the Courts finding that there IS a violation, but the only remedy is suppression of the evidence from a criminal trial?

    Or how about this: the Transit Authority agrees to give up its powers under the "plain view" doctrine and will not bring charges against anybody for anything other than weapons of mass destruction. So anybody found with a knife, some drugs, stolen goods, obscene materials, etc., during one of these searches would, at most, have their contraband confiscated and sent on their way with a warning ticket.

    I think that this is what ought to be done when a kidnapper is caught red-handed, and his guilt is certain, and he acknowledges that his victim is still alive but buried somewhere or locked in a small enclosed space and will soon die if not rescued ASAP--- it might be best to just go ahead and violate the Constitution, torture the SOB until he discloses where his victim is, and either drop the criminal charges entirely or proceed with prosecuting him only with evidence that was not found, directly or indirectly, as a result of what he disclosed under torture.

    These are all just random thoughts, not the product of any legal research or even serious contemplation and deliberation.
  5. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

    gunsmoker, my thought was the same as your first one. I have a choice of consenting to the search or not using the transportation in question (though I have lingering doubts of whether searches should be permitted when coerced in such a manner). Once on board the train, however, I should be back to tradition warrant/probable cause requirements.
  6. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

    Does this case conflict with the NFL case?
    I have not read either one.

    I kind of figure they flushed the Fourth Amendment down the toilet back when the Supreme Court upheld roadblocks, which are "effective" at catching DUI offenders.
  7. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

    I haven't read either one, either, but I understood the problem in the NFL case to be personal pat downs (i.e., they were conducting acutal hand searches of peoples bodies, rather than searching bags or running people through metal detectors).