21-Year-Old Filed Suit Over His Treatment After Disrobing At
Arguments were heard this week in the case of a lawsuit brought
by a 21-year-old man who protested airport security screening by
writing part of the Fourth Amendment on his body and stripping to
underwear and socks in the checkpoint line at Richmond
International Airport in Virginia December 30, 2011.
Aaron B. Tobey of Charlottesville, VA filed a lawsuit seeking
$250,000, claiming the US Department of Homeland Security, TSA, and
airport officials violated his rights under the First, Fourth,
Fifth and 14th Amendments. He claims he was falsely imprisoned,
maliciously prosecuted, and "humiliated and punished...in direct
retaliation for his protected act of peaceful protest." Court
papers add that his belongings were repeatedly searched, and that
some personal effects were seized and discarded.
The Richmond Times Dispatch reports Carlotta P. Wells, an
attorney for the US Department of Justice, argued Wednesday in
favor of a motion to dismiss the suit, saying Tobey had made his
point by removing his shirt to display words from the Fourth
Amendment written on his body, but went too far when he disobeyed a
command to pass through a security scanner. She asserted, "The TSA
officers were clearly just following federal laws."
Anand Agneshwar, a lawyer representing Tobey, argued that his
client obeyed the commands of authorities, and it was they who went
too far by detaining Tobey for 90 minutes or more in handcuffs.
Tobey did eventually board his flight to attend a funeral.
Henrico County authorities charged him with disorderly conduct,
but later dropped the charge.
The paper reports Federal District Judge Henry E. Hudson said he
hopes to rule within two weeks on the motion to dismiss, but also
set a trial date of January 18, 2012 in the event the case goes