Appeal Denied — US District Courts Have No Jurisdiction Over TSA, No Right to Trial By Jury

Sadly, the judgment of the District Court in dismissing my case for lack of jurisdiction was affirmed today by a 3 judge panel at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision that effectively states that Americans have no right to a jury trial when challenging their government.

Corbett v. US – Affirmed (.pdf)

The result of this decision is that virtually no policy made by the TSA can be challenged in U.S. District Court, which means that the TSA completely evades trial-by-jury and my right to gather and present evidence. The 11th Circuit ignores the discussion of a jury, and finds solitude in the fact that if I made my challenge in the Court of Appeals, they “may” allow me discovery, hearings, etc., but this wholly misses the point: my right to a fair jury trial complete with discovery, evidence, and witnesses are not given to me at the discretion of an appellate judge, but rather taken as a right I was born with as an American citizen.

I will be filing a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as practicable.


30 thoughts on “Appeal Denied — US District Courts Have No Jurisdiction Over TSA, No Right to Trial By Jury

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  1. Sorry, Jon…. not that I expected anything different. I keep wondering when these fools will wake up and try to figure out just when and by whom America was hijacked…..

  2. Jon, very unfortunate.

    Apparently, secret TSA “orders” that result in unconstitutional actions cannot be reviewed in District Court.

    Apparently, if they said to shoot anyone running away in a secret order, that too would not be sued for in District Court.

    It is amazing that undocumented alient get greater rights, as cited in the one case. ”

    Jon – what would you hope to get from the Supreme Court – just the right to sue in District Court? If you can’t get that right, would you pursue the case in the Court of Appeals?

    1. Correct on both counts. The appeal would only be on the subject matter of jurisdiction. If the Supreme Court decides not to hear the case, or decides against me, I can try to re-file the case in the Court of Appeals (there are challenges to that too).

  3. This is just the beginning. TSA will eventually have legal immunity, AND carry weapons. The sheeple will feel much safer. The Supreme Court is not compelled to hear any appeal. How convenient.

  4. They are above the law. Just like the IRS in tax court. The shenanigans I’ve personally witnessed are unbelievable. Ordinary sheeple cannot imagine such behavior. Thank you for your tireless efforts. I appreciate it and applaud your work!

  5. Jon, I suggest you go to change(dot)org and start a petition there. Millions of people get emails from this site asking to sign, many visit the site to see what they can sign for, and a lot has been accomplished through them.

  6. Jon, thanks for pushing this as far as you can go!

    Keep us informed of your legal activities, and hang out the $$$ help box and let us know if and when you need additional help.

  7. This stinks but is to be expected from this corrupt government. Despite this set back you many more supporters than you will ever know and the appreciation of many people who admire your tenacity and principle in this fight.

  8. This is the same thing that happened to Jesse Ventura. But I do encourage people with grievance to try to bring the case to the Court of Appeals. If all the District Courts are throwing out the cases for the reason that the issue is a question of law, rather than a question of fact that warrant a jury trial. I wonder what excuses the Courts of Appeals would come up with, or will they also fold and bow to the stupid argument of administrative searches, which in our world today has severely tipped to the side of government abuse.

    1. That’s not quite the reason the District Courts are throwing it out. They’re throwing it out because there’s a law that says “orders” of the TSA are to be appealable (in the Court of Appeals), rather than the basis of a new action (in the District Courts). However, the TSA is stretching the definition of “order” to cover, basically, any decision they write down, which was not the intent of Congress.

  9. …and thank you, everyone, for the support! We’ve had a huge spike in traffic, and it’s almost entirely due to people sharing this on Facebook. If you haven’t yet, please do so and help us get the word out that not only are our 4th Amendment rights being suspended in the airports, but also our 5th Amemdment rights in court. If you’re reading this from the home page of the blog, just click the title of the blog post and a “share on Facebook” will be on the next page.

  10. Jon, there are many of us following this case. I am pleased to see that you are well prepared and knowledgeable on the processes of the courts. Let us know what we can do, if anything to help bring this case to the rightful conclusion.

    1. Thank you, Rose. The best thing for now is simply to share this story with your friends, especially via Facebook and Twitter. Also an option is to share with your legislators — I don’t think Congress understands that their laws are being abused to avoid jurisdiction. Finally, as I prepare to file the petition to the US Supreme Court, I’ll be looking to do one more donation drive to cover all sorts of fun expenses that come along with that, and if you’d like to get a head start, donations can still be made by PayPal to: jon [at]

  11. Sorry Jon, Thank you for your tireless work on this. You continue to give us all a little hope that some way, some how this violation can and will be stopped.

  12. Folks – did any of you actually read the judge’s opinion? It does NOT say that an order cannot be challenged. What is says is that Jon must file his case with the right court (a Federal Court of Appeals) where a judge will make a ruling on the legality of the order. A jury never gets to decide on legality of a regulation – they only get to decide if the facts of a case fit the regulation (i.e. did the person do the prohibited action).

    I applaud Jon’s battle for our civil liberties but why try to push your case to the Supreme Court (who doesn’t have to take the case) instead of refiling the case with a Court of Appeals and just following procedure?

  13. @Andrei – You don’t grasp the issue – Jon is NOT SUING OVER REGULATIONS but rather unconstitutional behaviour. None of us care WHY they are doing it, and how can one sue over regulations that are SECRET AND NOT SHOWN to the public?

    The basis is a violation of the 4th Amendment, and ALL administrative search case law referenced by the TSA, especially an Appeals Court decision in US vs DAVIS, affirms that any administrative search is still required to meet the intent of the 4th Amendment.

    When you balance groping the groin of a diaperless, dying 95-year old cancer victim versus the fact that no suicidal airline passenger with a working non-metallic bomb has caused a fatality in the LAST HALF A CENTURY! , I know where “reasonable” is.

    1. Jeff – I grasp the issue fully. This is ultimately a 4th amendment issue. However, the courts have a hierarchy and procedures – with very good reason – there is a huge variety of lawsuits in this country and different courts specialize in different issues.

      The TSA agents are groping passengers due to an administrative order from the Agency. Jon is asking for a permanent injunction against this behavior – to declare the order unconstitutional. The fact that nobody knows about this order is despicable.

      However the Court of Appeals did not hear any evidence about groping of cancer victims. It only considered a single issue: whether the TSA regulation authorizing pat downs is an administrative order.

      At this point Jon has two choices – file an appeal with the Supreme Court on the issue of whether this particular TSA policy is an ‘order’ or not. If he convinces the Supreme Court that this issue is of national importance, they may take up his case. If he prevails, he gets the right to go back down to District Court and actually argue the substantive issues.

      Or he can bypass that headache and refile his case in Circuit Court and get straight to the point of arguing the merits of his case.

      1. Andrei – there is no Circuit Court (if you mean District Court) that will take the case. It is true that the TSA has argued that their procedures are an “order” but Jon ultimately is not challenging the “order” but instead a widespread conduct of touching genitals as part of an administrative search and not as part of a procedure. Frankly, who cares why they touch our genitals?

        He cannot effectively argue in Appeals Court (which may be what you mean by Circuit Court..) since he can’t introduce evidence on his own or have a jury.

        I don’t give a crap about other people’s lawsuits or the workload – it is very fundamental to our society that unwanted genital groping may be unconstitutional – not some mere follow-though on a secret order (East Germany anyone?).

        Why would states, who force an insurance mandate on people who travel on roads, be willing to challenge a Federal insurance mandate yet they won’t protect their own citizens?

        The bottom line: The District Courts are “punting” on our Constitutional rights, and it’s a damn travesty.

  14. If I recall correctly the 11th Circuit gives the TSA a more or less blank check when it comes to searches. They hold that when you enter the security line, you consent to any and all searches that the TSA believes are appropriate, and unlike other cases, that consent cannot be withdrawn. IIRC, the 5th Circuit holds a similar rule. These were decided back in the days of metal detectors and it will take at least en banc review to overturn them, if not a directive from the Supreme Court. The 9th and 3rd circuits have more nuanced rules which do give the court a role in reviewing these sorts of cases.

    Interestingly (and encouragingly) the most important 3rd Circuit ruling was authored by Samuel Alito.

    1. Actually, in US vs DAVIS, the primary case cited by the TSA and which the Federal Government lost, the majority opinion said that if a passenger does not pass through a metal detector but instead leaves, then that is perfectly acceptable as the administrative purpose of preventing dangerous weapons is met. Since the passenger will not be on the plane, then the administrative search purpose of deterrence is accomplished.

      If a passenger fails a metal detector screening, they have consented to a search at that point and further searching through wanding or other means is considered permissible. This was established in another case.

  15. In other words, if the TSA wants to give every other passenger a full body cavity search, that would be allowed under the current precedents of the 5th and 11th circuits but almost certainly not allowed in the 9th and 3rd circuits. It isn’t clear where body scanners lie in this.

    I try not to travel to states in the 5th and 11th circuits as much as I can.

  16. @Jeff Pierce – A Circuit Court is another name for a Federal Court of Appeals.

    You say, “Jon ultimately is not challenging the “order” but instead a widespread conduct of touching genitals as part of an administrative search and not as part of a procedure.” Unfortunately the court didn’t see it that way – they are looking at this as a challenge to an order.

    “He cannot effectively argue in Appeals Court since he can’t introduce evidence on his own or have a jury.”

    That’s correct there is no juries or evidence in the Circuit Court. However since this is now framed as a challenge to an order what would you introduce as evidence and what facts would the jury get to decide?

    The contents of the order are not at issue – Jon would need to make an argument why this order clearly violates the 4th Amendment, and a judge gets to decide whether the argument holds any water.

    I wish Jon the best of luck with this case, and with the new district court case.

    1. Thanks for clarification.

      What I see as a disconnect is the Judge has assumed Jon is challenging rules he has never seen, and that these rules are an “order” as explained in the filings from both sides.

      It is the assumption that this is an order that is being challenged which is where the Courts have screwed the Bill of Rights.

      I understand what the current options are, but it is clearly limiting one the right to challenge unconstitutional procedures. And, there is no good reason citizens shouldn’t be able to start in District Court.

  17. Reading Judge Tjoflat’s opinion, it’s pretty clear that he’s inviting you to commence a proceeding in the Circuit Court. He mentions that the Court can take evidence if that is required. Why don’t you accept his invitation? Otherwise, all you will get from the Supremes is:

    cert denied.

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