Key Cases: TSA Whole Body Scanners

In an attempt to secure American air travel, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has implemented an intrusive policy of scanning travelers with Whole Body Imaging (WBI) devices which allow them to observe an image of passengers’ nude bodies to search for restricted items. If a traveler chooses to opt-out of this security measure, he is subjected to an invasive pat-down. The TSA whole body scanners are indicative of a larger climate of increased surveillance and policing directed toward innocent American citizens.

In this day and age of international terrorism, many people think it is OK to give up their privacy and their rights in order to shore up security. But this thinking leads to government intrusion which invites the dismantling of our democracy. The TSA whole body scanners are an invasive, unnecessary, and ineffective form of security which The Rutherford Institute is proud to fight against.

Consider the following stories: Adrienne Durso, a breast cancer survivor who had undergone a mastectomy, was repeatedly groped by TSA agents in the area where her surgery had occurred. Chris Daniels was repeatedly groped in his genitals by TSA agents after a scan showed an abnormality in his groin area that was a result of a childhood injury. After refusing to undergo further humiliation and instead choosing to not board his plane, TSA agents refused his decision to leave and demanded he stay and complete the security procedure. The inhumane treatment of these innocent travelers is indicative of a wider trend of security gone overboard in American airports.

The Rutherford Institute came to the defense of Durso, Daniels, and another client, a 12-year-old girl who was separated from her guardians by TSA agents and forced to undergo a full-body scan. Unfortunately, the case Durso v. Napolitano was dismissed by the U.S. District Court. Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. cited a secret order by the TSA placing all matters of TSA security in the jurisdiction of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Despite the government’s attempts to thwart challenges to their draconian security policies, The Rutherford Institute continues to fight on behalf of American travelers.

Most recently, The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of Aaron Tobey, a protestor who was wrongfully detained by the TSA after he asserted his constitutional rights in Richmond International Airport (RIC). On December 30, 2010, Tobey, an architecture student at the University of Cincinnati, was waiting in line to pass through security at RIC. He removed his shirt, displaying text written on his chest that read, "The right of the people to be secure... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,” a portion of the Fourth Amendment which bars the government from searching a person without a reasonable justification. Tobey successfully passed through screening, but was handcuffed and detained. He was charged with disorderly conduct, though those charges were eventually dropped. Currently, The Rutherford Institute is pursuing a complaint against government officials that Tobey’s First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

Despite the dangers that our country may face from terrorists, we cannot forget that the only reason our country is worth defending is that we have a variety of rights protecting our property, our bodies, and our minds from government intrusion. If we allow matters of security to trump matters of liberty, we will no longer have a nation worth defending. As such, The Rutherford Institute will continue to press the government on the matter of Whole Body Imaging and will hopefully prevail against the unjust security procedures employed by the TSA.

Press Releases

January 03, 2012
Rutherford Institute Appeals Dismissal of Airline Passenger, Pilot Lawsuit Against DHS & TSA Over Scanners, Virtual Strip Searches & Full-Body ‘Rub-Downs’

November 17, 2011
John Whitehead Appears on Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano (Fox Business Channel) to Discuss Health Risks Posed by TSA’s Use of Body Scanners in Airports

October 24, 2011
Citing Abusive Behavior by TSA Agents, Rutherford Institute Calls on TSA to Ensure that Agents Are Trained to Deal with Disabled Airline Passengers

October 11, 2011
Rutherford Institute Appeals Airline Passenger, Pilot Lawsuit Against DHS & TSA Over Scanners, Virtual Strip Searches & Full-Body ‘Rub-Downs’

August 30, 2011
District Court Agrees to Keep Aaron Tobey TSA Protest Case Alive, Rejects Government’s Motion to Dismiss Airport Stripper Lawsuit

July 08, 2011
Citing Secret Order, Federal Court Dismisses Airline Passenger Lawsuit Against DHS & TSA Over Scanners, Virtual Strip Searches & Full-Body 'Rub-Downs'

July 06, 2011
TSA Alert: Rutherford Institute Defends Female Protester Arrested for Attempting to Pass Through Airport Security Scanner in Underwear

March 10, 2011
Rutherford Institute Files Free Speech Lawsuit Over Student Arrested for Removing Shirt, Displaying 4th Amendment in Protest of Airport Scanners

January 27, 2011
VICTORY: Failing to Support Security Threat Claim, TSA Dismisses Case Against Muslim-American Pilot After Rutherford Institute Intervenes

November 16, 2010
The Rutherford Institute Defends Airline Pilots, Sues Dept. of Homeland Security & TSA Over Scanners, Virtual Strip Searches & Full-Body 'Rub-Downs'

December 05, 2010
Insisting on Right to Privacy, TRI Defends Airline Passengers, Sues DHS & TSA over Scanners, Virtual Strip Searches & Full-Body 'Rub-Downs'

October 21, 2010
The Rutherford Institute Agrees to Represent Michael Roberts, Airline Pilot Who Refused to Submit to Virtual Strip Search


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