Aaron Tobey

Virginia Man with 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial Over Airport Arrest

Aaron Tobey

Aaron Tobey

Aaron Tobey who wrote an abbreviated version of the Fourth Amendment on his body and stripped to his shorts at an airport security screening area won a trial Friday in his lawsuit seeking $250,000 in damages for being detained on a disorderly conduct charge.

Mr. Tobey claimed in a civil rights lawsuit that in 2010 he was handcuffed and held for about 90 minutes by the Transportation Security Administration at the Richmond International Airport after he began removing his clothing to display on his chest a magic-marker protest of airport security measures.

“Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,” written on his chest.




Judge Roger Gregory

Judge Roger Gregory

In sending the case to trial, unless there’s a settlement, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 and reversed a lower court judge and quoted by Benjamin Franklin.

Aaron Tobey alleges he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment rights when at Richmond International Airport (RIC), Transportation Security Administration
(TSA) agents and RIC police seized and arrested him for displaying the text of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution on his chest.

Here, Mr. Tobey engaged in a silent, peaceful protest using the text of our Constitution—he was well within the ambit of First Amendment protections. And while it is tempting to hold that First Amendment rights should acquiesce to national security in this instance, our Forefather Benjamin Franklin warned against such a temptation by opining that those ‘who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ We take heed of his warning and are therefore unwilling to relinquish our First Amendment protections—even in an airport.

Mr. Tobey didn’t want to go through the advanced imaging technology X-ray machines, or so-called nude body scanners, that were cropping up at airports nationwide. Instead, when it was his turn to be screened, he was going to opt for an intrusive pat-down, and removed most of his clothing in the process.

Among other things, the federal lawsuit claimed wrongful detention and a breach of the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment. Tobey was on his way to Wisconsin for his grandmother’s funeral. Despite his detainment, he made his flight.

According to the suit, while under interrogation, the authorities wanted to know “about his affiliation with, or knowledge of, any terrorist organizations, if he had been asked to do what he did by any third party, and what his intentions and goals were.”

Two weeks later, Henrico County prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor charge against him, and he sued the Transportation Security Administration and others.

Judge Harvey Wilkinson

Judge Harvie Wilkinson

In dissent, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote:

Had this protest been launched somewhere other than in the security-screening area, we would have a much different case. But Tobey’s antics diverted defendants from their passenger-screening duties for a period, a diversion that nefarious actors could have exploited to dangerous effect. Defendants responded as any passenger would hope they would, summoning local law enforcement to remove Tobey—and the distraction he was creating — from the scene.






Source: wired.com

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  • Jon Quimbly

    It was only a distraction to TSA agents because they CHOSE to regard it as such. Had they likewise chosen to ignore the bare-chested man, there would have been no distraction.

    That they decided to freak out was the problem. Not Tobey’s “antics.”

    Kudos, my dude. Here’s hoping you get a large reward.

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    Judge Harvie Wilkinson is a fucking IDIOT !

  • J

    Judge Wilkinson should be removed from the bench forthwith!

  • Dr Kranknstein

    EXACTLY…Wilkinson is a an complete idiot. There was absolutely no reason for this. The kid was completely quiet in silent protest. It was the fucking TSA that caused a scene. If they would have just ignored this kid and cleared him like they do anyone else there would have been no issue. I mean seriously what is he going to do, hijack a plane with letters on his chest? “Oh the humanity… He has written letters of mass destruction on his chest” or even “I am sorry sir that is a high capacity chest and you my only have 10 words on it”. Just fuckin insane how retarded this whole thing is.

  • Ron

    Judge Harvie Wilkinson needs a punch to the throat by a cop, like that other Judge a while ago, to WAKE THE FUCK UP!

  • http://truthspew.wordpress.com Tony P

    Judge Wilkinson is in fact an idiot. The TSA agents CHOSE to act on it. They could have just let it pass but instead they took offense.

  • Leann

    Both judges had cogent points. I won’t go through the X-ray machines either, but I wouldn’t make a scene like that which could as Judge Wilkinson said, create a diversion in favor of a terrorist.

    On the other hand, security has gotten completely out of hand with incidents of 85 yr-old men and women being patted down because of knee replacements, and disabled children being traumatized by having their wheelchairs screened – with them in it.

    It’s high time that this country do what Israel has done for years – behavioral profiling. Google it to see what that is.

  • shawn

    TSA is a disgusting orginization filled with perverts. Worse, their use and tactics are being expanded, yet what have the stopped?
    The underwear bomber got through, shoe bomber, ect. The only thing that stopped them was the passengers. It is well known that the terrorists are well past stuffing a bomb in their pants.
    The worst part, they bend over backwards to avoid angering a certain social group, but make little old ladies and kids put up with being denegrated.

    TSA is the closest thing we’ve got to a true Soviet style police, and they are growing.

  • Steve Pert

    If we all put on Burkas then none of us would be searched. It is a shame written words can lead to this. The young man may have been beaten if he escalated the situation by saying the first amendment. It’s a logical step isn’t it?

  • Dmitry

    He did not “divert” anyone. They elected to divert themselves over a simple, and legal, matter. There is no law which states that a person may not write on their bodies. He did not cause a fuss. He did not make a scene. He wrote his Constitutionally guaranteed rigths on his body. There is no law against that.

    And if the judge is stupid enough to think that this unexpected turn of events could have been taken advantage of by “nefarious” people, who, naturally, were just waiting about for such a scene, hoping that something would happen, standing there with their bombs and whathaveyou on the off chance that this sort of thing would occur, then the judge is a fool and not qualified to sit.

    Further, as it was the guards who elected and chose to create a scene and “divert” their attention from an arguably silly thing to do, that speaks more to the guards than to the young man.

  • Steve Pert

    Excuse me, fourth amendment.

  • billy bob

    Thanks Aaron for standing up for our constitutional rights,please make them pay.

  • peoplestew

    As Judge Wilkinson sees it..the difficulties we had with England which led to the Revolutionary War..(and the resulting freedoms that the Judge enjoys), were precipitated by, at best..the “antics” of a bunch of rabble-rousers like: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, John Adams, and the like.
    From the Judge’s perch this young man is probably not worthy of inclusion in such a list. I wonder though, what would the Fathers say about the Judge and/or the young man?

  • Elizabeth M

    I’m glad he did it, and I hope people understand just how intrusive this screening is. I have been physically pushed off my feet by the force of pat downs twice now, simply because female airport screeners felt the need to “retaliate” against me for asking for an alternative screening rather than going through the x-ray machine.

    People should be able to make a peaceful and reasonable protest to a law or regulation they feel is unreasonable. The TSA can get upset if they want to, but that’s their problem, not his.

  • 1605

    Love, love, LOVE this!! Great job, young man! Wow!

  • SteveC

    The ‘great’ TSA….where was the TSA when Boston was bombed? When did they stop those guys from entering the USA? When, in fact, has the TSA done much of anything other than annoy everyone, body search grannies, steal stuff from baggage, and show themselves to be consummate government wastoid bureaucrats? And now this kid causes them to go ‘postal’? Jackazzes, all of them. Good on you, kid.

  • Wmills

    If he had written the ten commandments on himself he would have been shot on sight and the raped repeatedly while bleeding to death.

  • WmillsWesley

    What about the person who wrote this on his chest? There is no way he wrote that. He had help. Don’t the deserve a strip search and a good beating too?

  • Scarlet

    What NO ONE mentions is that there is no other, more useless or bigger failure of an organization for screening for terrorist than TSA. To date, their score? Terrorists caught -0-.

    Truthfully, catching terrorist is no where in their job description. Demoralization of the American Public so they will accept more and more invasiveness in their lives and give up ALL their freedoms.

    Yep, that is on the first line of the first paragraph for the Job Description for becoming a TSA tool.

  • ian

    Funny, Common Sense is suspiciously silent on this story…

  • nubwaxer

    oh please, your honor, quit talking law and common sense and stuff.

  • http://yahoo larry

    Do we need TSA? Yes we do. What we do not need is some of the morons that they have working as agents. The good old boy mentality type.

    Time and time again they them selves prove that they need better people working the floors.

  • http://www.policemisconduct.net Glenn

    I can see it now…

    “Benjamin Franklin was a dirty anti-American hippy!” — common sense


    When you see common sense, t., underoath, psosgt and all the other shills spew their boot-licking propaganda here on Cop Block, remember, THIS IS WHO THEY ARE, THIS IS WHAT THEY STAND FOR, AND THIS IS WHAT THEY DEFEND!

    Wichita KS police officer Officer Joseph T. McGill, 28, was convicted today of committing a sexual act on a 3-month-old child and a 1-year-old child. Officer McGill pleaded guilty in January 2012 in an unrelated case to sexual battery while on duty as a police officer and was sentenced to three years probation. Those charges stemmed from separate incidents in November 2010 and February 2011. The judge set sentencing for March 1.


  • Common Sense

    Because its a pointless story….

  • Jean

    Wilkinson needs to be removed from the planet post-haste.

    And for those who wish to discuss how we “need” the TSA – these assholes have been blowing up and hijacking aircraft longer than I’ve been alive – and I’m about 40.
    Almost ALL of our security is a dog-and-pony show, IE, a fraud. It’s only getting more expensive, and it’s NOT WORKING. You want to talk about “distractions”? Let’s talk GROSS INCOMPETENCE, like the Muslim TSA screener who didn’t know his metal detector walk-through was UNPLUGGED. (Newark Intnt’l air port, BTW, look it up.)
    How about the sheer number of Muslims operating it. Ever wonder why veterans, whites, children are getting screened, while Arab / Palestinian / Pakistani / African / Indian are only rarely stopped?

    We’re talking about a religion that still believes in slavery… And INSTIGATED such tactics as human shields, and suicide bombings, and condones rape and murder.

    It is just NOT compatible with a secular state, ANY secular state – even Nazi Germany would be an abomination, simply because it’s NOT MUSLIM.

    TSA accomplishes nothing but funnelling money to pols, and quieting the Sheep.
    (B.N. that there’s also been a lot “propaganda” in the form of movies about the problems in an aircraft: Depressurization, mostly, bombs, too – but: A bullet through the skin of the plane doesn’t make the plane go down all by itself. There isn’t explosive decompression consuming the plane, ripping it to shreds, even with modern metal skins. But the JOKE goes back to at least Airplane!, where terrorists carrying RPGs and machine guns set off the detector – so the security tackles the nun in the next detector. IF it’s THAT old a joke? Maybe we fucked up.)