Last September, Jessica Lundquist passed through a body-scanner at Burbank airport and was told by a TSA screener that they wanted to conduct a "groin search" on her.
Lundquist refused to allow the screener to touch her vulva, whereupon the screener summoned two colleagues. The "officers" (the TSA styles its employees as "officers" even though they do not have any law-enforcement powers) told Lundquist that if she did not allow them to touch her genitals, they would use physical force to perform the search, and also told her she was not allowed to leave. They also refused to allow her to make a video-record of the search.
All of this conduct was illegal. The TSA is not allowed to detain travelers who wish to abandon their trips. The TSA is required to allow passengers to record their searches. The TSA is absolutely not allowed to use physical force to effect searches when passengers object to them.
Lundquist has filed suit against the TSA, through her attorney Jon Corbett (previously), an activist-turned-lawyer who first came to fame when he demonstrated how easy it was to undetectably smuggle dangerous weapons through TSA full-body scanners, and went on to sue the TSA on behalf of a grandmother who was involuntarily strip-searched by the Tulsa TSA on Mother's Day, 2018.
I live in Burbank and fly in and out of the Burbank airport regularly. This is incredibly disturbing on its own, but doubly so that the TSA staffers involved could be my screeners next week.
But, Ms. Lundquist did something that TSA screeners don’t like: when told she would have to submit to a “groin search” to “resolve” the alarm, and the screener clarified that they would “need” to touch her genitals, she refused consent; she said no. Notwithstanding that TSA screeners are not law enforcement and it is not a crime to refuse to continue the screening process, being told no hurts their ego, and so a screener, backed up by two supervisors, did what they may not: they told her she may not leave, and that they would force her to comply if she did not:
I feel for Ms. Lundquist because TSA screeners made the same exact threat to me in 2011. I knew that TSA screeners were unable to force a traveler to comply, and that their only lawful option is to allow the traveler to leave the checkpoint into the non-secure area, so I continued my refusal until they let me go. But, believing these “federal officers,” and under threat of forcible compulsion, and after making and being refused another lawful request — to have her screening video recorded — Ms. Lundquist submitted to the search, wherein the TSA touched her vulva and buttocks without her consent. They, of course, found nothing.
California Woman Sues TSA For Detaining Her, Forcing Her to Submit to “Groin Search” [Jon Corbett/Professional Troublemaker]