Petition for U.S. Supreme Court Review: Must TSA Screeners Limit Searches to Weapons, Or Can They Read Your Documents At the Checkpoint?

Today I filed with the U.S. Supreme Court a petition for certiorari — a request that the review the decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals who declared that the TSA can lawfully search for anything they think is suspicious, including by reading your documents. The ruling from the 11th Circuit, which covers Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, is in direct contrast to the 9th Circuit, which covers most of the Pacific time zone, who ruled repeatedly, and as recently as 2007, that TSA searches must be “no more extensive nor intensive than necessary, in the light of current technology, to detect the presence of weapons or explosives [and] confined in good faith to that purpose.”

Although I believe the above to be the most important issue I’ve raised, the petition also asks the court to take a look at numerous other questions, including whether TSA screeners are liable for assault and false arrest committed while on duty, whether they should reconsider their narrow interpretation that gutted the Privacy Act in 2012, and more.

The Supreme Court accepts an extraordinarily small portion of the cases presented to them. I hope they find review of a search that affects 2 million Americans daily to be worthy of their attention.

Corbett v. TSA – Petition for Certiorari (.pdf)

18 thoughts on “Petition for U.S. Supreme Court Review: Must TSA Screeners Limit Searches to Weapons, Or Can They Read Your Documents At the Checkpoint?

Add yours

  1. There will be no review by the supreme court or any other US official body. there will be no halt to the destruction of democracy. Assholery will triumph, but it is not actually the fault of these bodies or the individual assholes who operate them. It is the assholery of the general population which has caused official organisations like courts and airports to function to the detriment of humanity. It is the people themselves who have become assholes, anti democratic, mean, small, dispirited, willfully ignorant and anti-human. In effect you are appealing to these assholes to rule against assholery – it ain’t gonna happen. America is finished. The spirit of freedom and democracy is long dead.

  2. Hi John, thanks for all your work, it is very important and I think there is always hope. I was wondering, can you tell me briefly what peoples right are when pulled over by the TSA? If people are to have a pat down, and if they refuse, can they be fined 10,000 dollars or be arrested? Does the same apply if someone is pulled into a private room for a more private screening?

    Thank you again John, I am posting you work around and I believe many people find it favorable.

    1. I’m not a lawyer, yet (3.99 years left 😉 ), so I can’t advise you of your rights, but I can tell you what I’ve seen. Courts are generally holding that once a TSA search starts, you cannot withdraw consent. Courts have not really specified whether the TSA can *physically* enforce this or just levy a fine. My personal advice to anyone is this: never go into a back room with a TSA screener. There’s a reason why they don’t want to conduct those searches in public, and you don’t want to be on the receiving end. Miss your flight, let them threaten a fine (they have not tried to levy that fine since John “Don’t Touch My Junk” Tyner) or anything else they want to threaten. It’s just not worth it.

      1. Thanks John for your answer. It is much appreciated. I will let others know about this answer when I have the time. I hope you had a happy thanksgiving as well!

    2. Read this thread from FlyerTalk written by a passenger who refused to go to a private room to be groped:

      I’ll be more blunt than Jon about why the TSA wants you in a private room: they don’t want the public seeing screeners probing the genitals of passengers. In the link above, you will read that a TSA supervisor admitted such. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, tell the TSA that you will agree to have the search done in public. They won’t agree to that and you will be badgered and threatened in their attempt to get you into the private room. Stand your ground. You will miss your flight and be escorted out of the airport.

      1. Ah, FlyerTalk, I used to post there all the time until the moderation became entirely excessive. I remember the OP of that thread well.

        Anyway, yes, based on experiences that have been shared with me and with the public, the private room screening is full-on molestation, and then there were those 3 grandmothers who were asked to remove clothing in the private room as well. It’s not worth it. Don’t go.

  3. Hi I noticed you used the “professional troublemaker” email address. Don’t you think it will hurt your chances of even getting this read ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: