Court: TSA's full-body scanners do not violate the Constitution

The controversial full-body scanning machines used at airport security checkpoints by the Transportation Security Administration do not violate the U.S. Constitution, a court ruled Friday.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and a pair of individual citizens had argued before the Washington, D.C., circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals that the TSA's "advanced imaging technology" was a violation of the Fourth Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.

But the court ruled Friday that technology is legal.

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"In view of the Supreme Court’s 'repeated refusal to declare that only the least intrusive search practicable can be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,' and considering the measures taken by the TSA to safeguard personal privacy, we hold AIT screening does not violate the Fourth Amendment," the court said its 18-page ruling released Friday.

"As other circuits have held, and as the Supreme Court has strongly suggested, screening passengers at an airport is an “administrative search” because the primary goal is not to determine whether any passenger has committed a crime but rather to protect the public from a terrorist attack," the ruling continued. 

The court agreed with the EPIC that there should be a review of whether the TSA provided enough notice before it made the full-body scanners its primary method of airport security screening

However, the ruling said it would not require the agency to change the policy.

"Due to the obvious need for the TSA to continue its airport security operations without interruption, we remand the rule to the TSA but do not vacate it, and instruct the agency to promptly proceed in a manner consistent with this opinion," the ruling said.

The case was decided by Circuit Judges Douglas Ginsburg, Karen Henderson and David Tatel.

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