Court rejects TSA qualified immunity: Government genital massages can be video-recorded

The TSA tried to weasel its way out of a lawsuit in which a TSA agent forced a man to delete a video he'd taken of being searched by an agent but the court rejected its qualified immunity defense. Cory Doctorow has more on his Pluralistic blog:

Qualified immunity is a bizarre American legal doctrine that says that government officials (especially cops) that break the law aren't personally liable for their lawlessness unless the law they violate is "clearly established."

Practically speaking, it means that if a law enforcement officer breaks the law, they face no legal consequences – unless they break the law in precisely the way that some other cop was convicted for – "Your honor, that other cop broke a suspect's knee – I broke his elbow."

"Professional troublemaker" Jon Corbett is a lawyer who specializes in suing the TSA for civil rights violations, mostly due to the compulsory government genital massages they administer at airport checkpoints. He's just scored a major victory in a qualified immunity case.

Corbett's client is Dustin Dyer, who exercised his legal right to record a TSA search at Richmond International Airport. A TSA supervisor illegally ordered him to stop recording and forced him to delete his video (he was able to recover the deleted file later).

Dyer is suing the TSA and the officers, and the TSA invoked qualified immunity to get the case dismissed. Corbett argued that qualified immunity doesn't apply, and that the officers face the Bivens standard that allows monetary damages for Fourth Amendment violations.

Corbett successfully argued the point, and the judge turned down the TSA's motion. The case will now proceed to trial. Congratulations to Corbett and Dyer!