Customs officials blocked from mandated ID checks on domestic flights
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Federal customs officials settled a lawsuit Wednesday banning them from randomly checking airplane passengers’ identification on domestic flights. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) attorneys reached a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the law firm Covington & Burling, which represented nine passengers on a 2017 flight from San Francisco to New York City, according to the released settlement.

When the Delta Air Lines flight landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport, CBP officials said they were searching for a fugitive and demanded that all passengers show their identification, USA Today reported.


The passengers named in the lawsuit alleged that the search was a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Under the settlement, the agency cannot have any policy of “suspicionless document check.” CBP can conduct ID checks, but they must tell passengers that the checks are voluntary, and the agency must request that the airline must make a public announcement that the check is voluntary as well.

Officers also cannot block the exit of a plane or airport, such that “passengers who decline to cooperate have an unimpeded path to exit."  

“If a passenger asks, officers should communicate that passengers who decline to cooperate will not suffer any enforcement as a result,” the settlement states.

The Department of Homeland Security will also be required to pay a total of $40,000 in lawyer fees to the ACLU and Covington & Burling.

“This settlement is a win for the Fourth Amendment rights of all travelers on domestic flights. It makes clear what should have been obvious to the CBP officers: the Constitution protects passengers deplaning domestic flights just as it protects people on the street or in a car. CBP is bound by those protections, and this settlement helps make sure the agency stays within those bounds,” the ACLU said in a statement.

The Hill has reached out to CBP for comment.