Remember our happy mutant comrade John Brennan, who removed his clothes at the Portland Airport during a TSA screening? He was acquitted of a ridiculous indecent exposure charge, and now he is appealing an equally stupid fine from the Transportation Security Administration for “interfering with the screening process.” This might sound silly, but it's serious business. As Brennan points out in his press release below, "This is the first time the TSA has followed through on assessing civil penalties for 'interference with screening" purely for nonviolent, non-obstructive protected expressive conduct.'"
I'm grateful to Brennan for being a civil liberties champion.
John Brennan’s TSA Hearing for Nude Protest on May 14, 2013
May 09, 2013
Portland, OR - John Brennan, the man who protested TSA at Portland International Airport in 2012 by removing his clothes, has a TSA hearing at 9AM on May 14, 2013, in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Brennan is appealing a fine from the Transportation Security Administration for “interfering with the screening process.” Under docket # 12-TSA-0092, Administrative Law Judge George J. Jordan will preside at U.S. Bankruptcy Court 1001 SW 5th Avenue, Suite 700 Portland, OR 97204 Room: 9th Floor, Courtroom #2. Robert Callahan of the Northwest Law Center represents Mr. Brennan.
Mr. Brennan is charged with an alleged civil violation of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) § Part 1540, Section 109, which states, “No person may interfere with, assault, or intimidate screening personnel in the performance of their screening duties under this subchapter.” The first step in appealing this fine is an administrative hearing. Mr. Brennan was acquitted of the criminal charges of indecent exposure in 2012.
Mr. Brennan’s TSA hearing is of note for several reasons: This is the first time the TSA has followed through on assessing civil penalties for "interference with screening" purely for nonviolent, non-obstructive protected expressive conduct.
Mr. Brennan’s hearing will have an administrative record resulting from a public hearing, the first of its kind in the United States with TSA legal proceedings according to Freedom To Travel USA, http://fttusa.org/.
The Administrative Law Judge has no authority to consider the Constitutionality of TSA regulations or orders.
While the criminal charge of indecent exposure, initiated by the State of Oregon, were resolved within months of Mr. Brennan’s protest, the civil charges, initiated by TSA, are on-going. TSA provided verbal notification of an investigation at the time of Mr. Brennan’s arrest, April 17, 2012, and written notification on April 26, 2012. On August 30, 2012, Mr. Brennan was notified in writing that TSA proposed to assess a civil penalty. Mr. Brennan’s hearing on May 14, 2013, comes more than a year after his protest.
If Mr. Brennan loses at this hearing, his next action is an administrative appeal to the head of the TSA. If he loses the administrative appeal, Mr. Brennan will have 60 days from the administrative appeal decision to file a "Petition for Review" of the TSA decision by the Circuit Court of Appeals.
On April 17, 2012, TSA referred the Port of Portland Police Department (POPPD) to John Brennan, who was going through TSA screening and chose to engage in a political protest of the TSA after allegedly testing positive for nitrates, an explosive. In, what he says was “effective and appropriate” protest (and a way to show TSA that he was not carrying explosives), Mr. Brennan removed all his clothes. POPPD arrested Mr. Brennan for the criminal charges of indecent exposure and disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct charges were immediately dropped, and Mr. Brennan was acquitted of the indecent exposure charges on July 18, 2012. The trial judge concluded, “…it is the speech itself that the State is attempting to punish and that it cannot do, so I am finding Mr. Brennan not guilty.”
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects