The right to bare: Tobey, TRI, take on TSA

Aaron Tobey, the 21-year-old Charlottesville native who made headlines in December when he was arrested after stripping down to his shorts at the Richmond International Airport while going through security, revealing the words of the Fourth Amendment written on his bare chest to protest controversial new TSA strip search procedures, could be making headlines again.

The Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney quickly dropped the charges against Tobey, but now the architecture student at the University of Cincinnati and attorneys for the Rutherford Institute, who intervened before the charges were dropped, are suing Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, the head of the TSA, and the Richmond Airport.

"Aaron Tobey was arrested for exercising his right to free speech, which is clearly protected under the First Amendment," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, in a March 10 release. "Tobey was unduly seized by government agents in violation of the Fourth Amendment, despite the fact that he did nothing to disrupt airport routine."

According to the release, Institute attorneys allege that Tobey was arrested and held for questioning without sufficient cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Institute attorneys also argue that Tobey's First Amendment rights were violated when he was arrested because of the content and manner of his protest. Additionally, Institute attorneys charge that federal and state officials failed to adequately train law enforcement officers stationed at RIC, resulting in Tobey's unlawful arrest.


I'm a retired California Police Officer. I hope this young man sues all involved especially the Police Officers. They deserve what they get. They should of known better and should not of made themselves lackeys to the TSA. I'm with Tobey 100%.

Yay! Another person suing the government so that all of us taxpayers can pay him a huge windfall just because he cooked up a stupid attention-getting scheme that none of us gives a crap about! How did he not get to exercise his free speech? He got to show everyone in the airport that he can write backwards numbers. Nobody has to allow a person to stand barechested in their underpants for as long as they want on private property. Quick the cameras are coming back!...Suck the gut back in and tense the pecs again!

Hey, Adamius:

First, he was in shorts. Not underwear. Try getting your facts straight before you launch into an idiotic tirade.

Further, don't speak for all of us. Your statement that "none of us gives a crap" is patently false. Try doing ONE Google search to confirm that MANY of us are unhappy with the TSA thuggery and abuse of our Constitutional rights.

You want to be a sheeple and get irradiated, groped and/or taken to the back room for a strip search? You go right ahead. I will not be abused in that manner EVER again and I will not allow YOU and YOUR ILK to speak for me.

Get your head out of your rear end and take a look at the Constitution and do a little research about what exactly is going on before you EVER AGAIN DEIGN TO SPEAK FOR "ALL OF US" or declare 'NONE OF US GIVES A CRAP". You do not speak for me or ANYONE. You only speak for yourself.

Another little boy playing games, he did this on purpose so he deserves everything bad that can happen to him. He just doesn't realize how lucky he is to live here; I hope he loses big time.

Adamius probably believes that Rosa Parks got what she deserved when she was arrested on Dec. 1st, 1955, for cooking up an attention-whoring scheme that nobody else gave a crap about.

To compare this situation to Rosa Parks is really ridiculous.

I agree completely with Adamius. Air travel is a private enterprise. People can be refused service for any reason. The TSA provides security screening as a public service.

If you don't want to comply with the TSA's security screening, you have the choice of not employing the air service of those private companies operating out of those terminals.

Causing a public disturbance leads to being arrested for causing a public disturbance. To then turn around and sue is the height of stupidity.

This lawsuit will be unsuccessful and this young man will learn a valuable lesson: acting like an idiot in public has consequences.

The above story is one of a true violation of the 4th amendment. Odd that the Rutherford Institute isn't mentioned as filing an amicus brief. I guess that since the victim isn't a white college student and the perpetrators aren't some right-wing punching bag, John Whitehead couldn't be bothered.

this will go nowhere. like everything the rutherford institute does, this suit is just to drum up publicity for its president. the hook falls for it everytime

How about we have separate flights for those of us who remember the reason for the annoying TSA searches. You guys who are so concerned about your junk being seen or rubbed can ride with the bombers.

I'd take the flight without the TSA in a New York minute. If you think the TSA is going catch any bombers you're a complete fool.

What is wrong with some of you people? With a few of you I guess it's about the money. Tobey might get a few dollars, but nobody is handing you any. You're all steamed up over it.

There is no law that prevents a young man from walking into the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport in a speedo and tennis shoes, even if he has the entire Constitution tattooed on his body.

John Whitehead will discuss this legal suit and story on "Charlottesville—Right Now!" today at 5pm (Friday March 11). NewsRadio 1070 WINA. You can listen live online at

I congratulate Tobey and the Rutherford Institute for taking a stand against un-Constitutional and sexually abusive searches by the TSA, and against law enforcement thugs who back up the blue-shirt molesters to shut down legitimate protests! What the TSA is doing is wrong; it's disgusting; it's ineffective; it's abusive; it's intolerable in a free society. I will fight with everything I have to stop the TSA from forcing innocent people to pose for pornographic pictures or endure unwanted and unwelcome sexual contact. These perverts are taking naked pictures of children! Anyone who thinks this is okay is sick.

@ Robert, the retired police officer from California:

It's should HAVE. Not "should OF."

And SHOULD HAVE becomes the contraction "should've." Not should OF.

Man alive I'm sick and tired of seeing people writing things like must OF, could OF, should OF, would OF.

Does anybody go to school anymore? Does anybody understand about contractions? Grammar??


"Does anybody understand about contractions?"

Who taught you to write like that?

Thank you Boooo! I do see you is ah you're correct, in fact I know where you are at on this grammar thingy.

OK mr meanwhile, make up your mind. First you argue that air travel is a private enterprise, implying that passengers should be prepared to give up their constitutional rights as long as they are in the airport, or in the air, then you say he is 'acting like an idiot in public', and therefore should be arrested. You can't have it both ways. Is it private or public?

And btw, it's moot, because the constitution protects Americans in both public and private. Maybe you should check it out.

An arrest and detention for a silent - and barely disruptive - demonstration of free speech is clearly unlawful. The only thing that the TSA officers could lawfully have done is expel the guy from the airport (which is indeed a private privilege, but not one which they availed themselves of).

About every 2-3 year we have a problem with someone who refuses to leave our business when asked. Invariably they are white, middle class/above and simply breathe entitlement. "You cannot make me leave!!" they steam. Then the cops come and they want to have a big debate. The cops say leave the store and we will talk, or we will arrest you.

I am sure some parallel exists. They are only asked to leave when they provide disruptive behavior that negatively impacts the activities that are provided.

How many people are FORCED to go to the airport. They are making a choice. If you do not want to be searched, drive a car. And I would be willing to bet big $$$ that this boy comes from a house with expensive cars in the driveway.

And comparing the entitled boy to someone who had been beaten down for a lifetime and was exhausted to all measure like Rosa Parks is akin to saying Obamas first Economic advisor really knew how the business world worked....

Pretty weak argument jimi. By that same logic, you might just as well argue that no one made Rosa Parks ride the bus.

A whole lotta people in 1960 Montgomery proves that point. No one forced them to ride the bus. And when they decided to take the mater into their hand and strike, the situation was resolved.

Curious how the National "Opt out" boycott worked last Tgiving. Oh...thats rights....NOBODY OPTED to face the inconvenience. They CHOSE to make the plan on time and CHOSE ot ride on a safe plane.

The TSA is as competent of providing security as correctional officers are of preventing proison rape.

Do away with the TSA, and if anyone feels unsafe boarding a plane then those indiduals can drive or take a ride on Amtrak -- where TSA agents are so confused that "All passengers getting off a train at that station (in Savannah, GA) were forced to have their belongings checked, and some (including kids) underwent a pat-down."

So jimi, I guess you are now saying Tobey was like Parks, but unlike in Parks's situation, no one else was brave enough to protest. That's Tobey's fault?

The video link Your Personal Savior posted should concern a lot of people. In addition to whatever is right or wrong in the involuntary searches, do you notice the TSA agents wear plastic gloves to protect themselves from germs and disease? But they go from to person to person using the same gloves. They should be required to use a new pair of gloves each time they touch a different person.

"You want to be a sheeple and get irradiated, groped and/or taken to the back room for a strip search? You go right ahead. I will not be abused in that manner EVER again..."

Haha. Have you ever been through screening? If you don't wanna get irradiated, then you're gonna have to live in a lead cave. You get a hundred times more radiation normally in 1 day, then you do in a body scan. Strip search? TSA doesn't strip search. It doesn't even get to that point. If it gets to that, you just don't fly. It's the educated people that are going to change the TSA, and clearly people like you who are blatantly ignorant to procedures will not. Keep on peddling your propaganda. I know I don't want another 9/11.

You're completely missing the point. American citizens are protected by the constitution from EXACTLY this kind of governmental interference in our lives and yet somehow a large portion of the people seem to think because it makes us 'safer' that it's okay to give up these freedoms.

I don't spit on my ancestors sacrifices and if it's necessary to have another revolution to prevent the destruction of these ideals of freedom, so be it.

I just traveled overseas and back last week. No hassle by TSA at IAD whatsoever - no pat down, no body xray, no body scan. Every TSA employee was very courteous. In the foreign country I visited, there was much more security.

This whole issue is a non-issue - just more insane hysteria whipped up by the fact-free Fox News/GOP propaganda machine, and repeated and bleated by right wing sheeple.

Ignorant pinheads like Tobey slow down the boarding process, and cause big hassles for the people in line behind him. I hope he gets on a permanent no-fly list.

Aldous Snow, TSA would probably be interested in exactly how you had no searches whatsoever.

Personally, I simply don't believe it myself. :)

mmm i wont fly ever again after being strip searched in a rude way... in a glass cage infront of every one to see. includeing my kid. i think this is way over board on the glass cage and just an FYI a guy with a camera phone snaped a few pics of me in my bra and underwear while im standing there on the foot prints on the floor arms and legs spread out. how is that even humain"dont know if i spelled that right" and i had the scurity guy grab my arm as i tried covering my chest and panty area with my hands. and i objected to standing there like that and asked for my dress back as the security guy is telling me i needed to corroperate or be detained while the camera phone guy was snapping shots.and they talk about this boy violateing rights? lol what is this country turning into?worest vacation ever. not to mention the stares and then flying for hours on this flyt infront of people who seen me in my under garmets. our rights should be concidered. or were all gonna turn into sheep and be hurded. thats why our fore fathers struggled to make the rights for the future generation.what a brave young man. to stand up and say no to the brutality that is happening to our rights

The kid pulled this stunt on the way to his Grandfather's funeral. I sure hope my Grand kids treat me with more respect! What a creep...

"So jimi, I guess you are now saying Tobey was like Parks, but unlike in Parks's situation, no one else was brave enough to protest. That's Tobey's fault?"

cookiejar, no. That's what YOU'RE saying. Jimi clearly stated the analogy is poor because the victims in Montgomery were so consistently discriminated against in contrast to this child of privilege. The analogy is also poor because the "opt-out" day was an EPIC failure, whereas the Montgomery boycott was a complete success.

So, what's happening is these privileged whiners are attempting to assume the mantle of an aggrieved class, but failing. Also, when they attempt to take action to force change, they are failing. When their supporters attempt to compare their plight to examples of true courage and struggle, they are failing.

I can't wait to hear of the further failings of these armchair freedom fighters. This pathetic attention seeker will learn much come his day in court. To wit: no one cares about his imagined suffering at the hands of the TSA.

This story is past its due date. The rage against the machine of the TSA was so 2010.

That guy is h-h-hot in his shorty shorts.

The 4 is backwards

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Man-o-man are there some STUPID people commenting here. WAKE UP America! You're completely asleep if you can't see what the gov is doing. This is CLEARLY a violation of the 1st and 4th Amendment. Little by little the government is taking your day you're going to wake up under marital law. Don't believe me? Stay quiet and one day you'll discover it for yourself!

1) TSA is, for lack of a better word, a joke. El Al (sp) the safest airline on earth has no mandatory strip search. They use observation, interrogation and (dare I say it?) profiling to effectively keep their pax safe. I have personally carried a TSA "banned" item on many flights simply because I forgot it was in my pocket. That makes me wonder what else is getting past them every day.
2) Fox is no different than any other "news" media (including this rag). They are all bias and agenda driven. Can you say Dan Rather?
3) For all of the left wing Dem, Socialists, "Progressives" or whatever you call yourselves this week, if you want govt control to further your agenda... Move!
I happen to enjoy Our Constitution and the freedoms and rights it provides all of US!
4) One last thought. Of all of the unsuccessful attempted aircraft attacks including the one that crashed in Pa., how many were stopped by the TSA or law enforcement?