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Aaron Tobey Protests Use of Airport Body Scanners by Writing 4th Amendment on Chest

A man from Virginia protested the use of X-ray machines and nude body scanners when he showed up in the security line at Richmond International Airport and started shedding his clothes. 

Written on his bare chest was a shortened version of the Fourth Amendment. He won a trial Friday in a suit that sought $250,000 in damages for being detained on a disorderly conduct charge. 

In the lawsuit, Aaron Tobey said he was handcuffed and held in 2010 for 90 minutes by the Transportation Security Administration after he started removing his clothes. 

On his chest were the words: "Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated."

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1, reversing a lower court judge and referencing Benjamin Franklin:

"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."

Tobey opted for a pat-down instead of going through body scanning machines, which was why he removed his clothes. 

He was on his way to his grandmother's funeral in Wisconsin. He ended up making his flight, even after being detained for an hour and a half. 

While he was being interrogated, authorities asked if he was affiliated with any terrorist organizations and if he was forced to do what he did by a third party. 

After two weeks, Henrico County prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor charge. 


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