The state of the Bill of Rights

A man who stripped nearly naked to make a point about his constitutional rights scored a victory today after forcing airport personnel to study up on the First and Fourth Amendments, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Aaron Tobey, known as the “4th Amendment Flasher,” was arrested in 2010 by the Transportation Security Administration and Richmond International Airport security after stripping down to his underwear – much beyond the point mandated by protocol – with a portion of the Fourth Amendment written on his chest in black marker: “The right of the people to be secure…against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

Though charges were ultimately dropped, Tobey sued the TSA and the airport, and following a year and a half of legal proceedings the respective organizations involved have now settled. The details of the settlement read like a civil libertarian fantasy realized, and involve Richmond’s airport security personnel being forced to brush up on American Government 101:

“Richmond International Airport officials announced this week that their security officers underwent a special two-hour training course on the First and Fourth Amendment rights of passengers as a part of a settlement with Mr. Tobey,” writes WSJ‘s Jacob Gershman.

The TSA, as part of a separate settlement that likewise involved no monetary payout as originally sought by Tobey, appears somewhat less humbling. The TSA has “agreed not to appeal the ruling or further prosecute Mr. Tobey for interfering with TSA procedures,” Gershman informs.

Moral of the story: The Fourth Amendment applies only after years of legal skirmishes.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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