Embarrassing Setback for TSA; Victory For Fourth Amendment, Gold Standard

Remember Steve Beirfeldt? He's the Ron Paul campaign staffer who was detained and interrogated by TSA employees in St. Louis for the crimes of carrying a bunch of cash and for, in effect, contempt of cop. TSA cops were outraged that Beirfeldt refused to tell them why he was carrying about $4,700 in cash, and that he insisted they clarify their basis for detaining him. The whole affair would have been swept under the rug, dismissed based on a he said/she said dispute over what happened, except for the fact that the TSA cops were so powerfully stupid they didn't notice that Beirfeldt was recording the whole thing on his phone. Armed with the evidence of TSA's treatment of Beirfeldt, the ACLU sued.

Recently the TSA caved and agreed to issue new rules clarifying what its cops ought to know already:

The new rules, issued in September and October, tell officers "screening may not be conducted to detect evidence of crimes unrelated to transportation security" and that large amounts of cash don't qualify as suspicious for purposes of safety.

Those are two propositions that were already perfectly clear as a matter of constitutional law, for all the good that did.

The ACLU is dropping the suit in response.

Good for Beirfeldt for standing up for the Fourth Amendment. Good for the ACLU for effectively representing him. Note that this continues to undermine the folks who have a Glenn-Beck-comic-book vision of what the ACLU does. I don't, by any means, agree with every legal or political stance they take, but they are an important and effective force in defending constitutional rights against government intrusion.

Via Stich in Haste

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Andrew S. says

    I'm not sure I buy it at all. There are reports on the travel website Flyertalk, which has an excellent forum regarding the TSA, that indicate that the new regulations are actually worse than the old ones.

    It's somewhat telling that they're not publishing the regulations, instead asking that anyone who wants to see them file a FOIA request.

  2. says

    Perhaps you're being a bit too trusting of the TSA? Parse this one out a bit, and I think you'll realize that it's more fluff than substance. The case will be over, and it doesn't appear that anything substantive has changed.

  3. says

    If it's true that their only duty is to ensure that everyone on the plane is disarmed, why do they have to verify your ID?