Skip to comments.Judge: Security 'Pat-Downs" Of Buc Fans Unconstitutional
Posted on 07/28/2006 7:24:33 PM PDT by Cagey
TAMPA, Fla. -- Security "pat-downs" of fans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers games are unconstitutional and unreasonable, a federal judge ruled Friday, throwing into question the practice at NFL games nationwide.
U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore issued an order siding with a Bucs season-ticket holder who had sued to stop the fan searches that began last season after the NFL implemented enhanced security measures.
High school civics teacher Gordon Johnson sued the Tampa Sports Authority, which operates the stadium, to stop officials from conducting the "suspicionless" searches. A state judge agreed with Johnston that the searches are likely unconstitutional and halted them.
The case was later moved to federal court, where the sports authority sought to have that order thrown out. Whittemore refused Friday, writing that the pat-downs "constitute unreasonable searches under the Florida Constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution."
Further, Whittemore said the Tampa Sports Authority failed to establish that the risks outweigh the need to protect the public from unreasonable searches.
Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, which sued on Johnston's behalf, said Whittemore's decision could turn out to be significant.
"It's obviously not going to govern what's happening around the country, but it's certainly going to be an influential precedent," Simon said. "Other courts may look at it."
Simon said he thinks the decision shows that courts are "pushing back" at governmental attempts to violate citizens' civil rights on the basis of a perceived threat of terrorism or crime.
Rick Zabak, an attorney for Tampa Sports Authority, said the decision will be appealed.
"We're disappointed, and we respectfully disagree with the judge's conclusions," Zabak said.
Calls to an NFL spokesman were not immediately returned Friday. In a previous statement, the NFL said "these limited screenings are reasonable and important to the protection of our fans."
Another NFL pat-down case made it into federal court last week when the Chicago Park District sued in federal court to challenge the planned searches by police at Chicago Bears games.
Well, if there is an attack at a stadium and it is found that the perp was a suicide bomber that could have been stopped with a pat down, we can all thank Gordon Johnson.
Are Raider fans still fair game?
This from a judge who is probably surrounded by armed court officers all day. I wonder what security at his courtroom door is like.
I doubt they can find anyone who would be willing to "pat down" Raider fans.
IIRC, we've heard the name Whittemore before.
This is the same a$#hole in the Terry Schiavo case, AND, he's a Clinton apointee....
Yep..thanks to these people..life is no longer a civil liberty..
Wow! A judge that understands probable cause, common law custom during war time and the 4th amendment. Maybe we can stop patting down grannies in wheelchairs and focus on suspects that might be hauling bombs.
Stadiums and venues are using this as "smoke and mirrors" to get a look at your stuff to see if you're bringing your own Poland Spring to a summer ballgame rather than buying their $6.00 bottle. The reason I know that number is because an old boss took his family to a baseball game last week and purchased a round of waters for himself, wife, and kids and the tab came to $24.00 for four.
A movie theater near my home even has a sign that they reserve the right to look in handbags, pocketbooks, and oversized garments for "security" purposes. Like a zit-faced, beanpole teenager is going to do something about a person with a customized .357 Magnum in a fannypack, anyway?
Don't be so fast to toss instructor Gordon Johnson under the bus. We shouldn't seek to eliminate our liberties as fast as possible in the mistaken belief of "thinking" we'll get additional security as a tradeoff...it simply won't happen.
~ Blue Jays ~
Who is doing the searches? Is it the police or is it a private security firm? That seems to be an important detail. I guess the Tampa Sports Authority is a government agency? I wouldn't see a problem with searches if the group doing the searches were a private security force working for the owners of the venue/team/whatever.
Read the ticket. All tickets for sporting events, concerts etc. have boilerplate stating you may be refused entry for any reason the management decides. Almost every concert I have been to in the past 25 years pats down people to ensure nobody is bringing in contraband. In fact police officers never do the pat down, and most municipalities won't let their officers do the search because of liabilities unique to Govt agents. Although in the Chicago case there is some question because the City owns Soldier Field.
The judge is saying random searches are unconstitutional. I agree. The searches should be targeted at middle eastern men, where there's reasonable suspicion they might be carrying bombs. This war is against middle eastern men. Searching grannies and pregnant women wastes time and manpower. It's PC BS.
Allow our security people to do their job and use their instincts to flush out terrorists.
That ruling seems criminal in itself in today's world.
Bet those games can blow up real good for terrorists without security.
So what happens when a businessperson attending an event is told they'll have to surrender their expensive Montblanc Meisterstuck fountainpen because it could be used as a dagger?
I know of an instance where a coworker wasn't permitted entry to an Eric Clapton/Cream concert at Madison Square Garden because his laptop computer AC adapter could be "swung" as a weapon. Nevermind that he was still dressed in a nice suit, with clients, had I.D., and it was a work computer with his name and employee# affixed to it!
Please don't become a bootlicker in the name of safety. The various rules that can be applied at a whim by public and private locations will make normal life increasingly difficult for reasonable people.
~ Blue Jays ~
Cutting to the chase, yeah, this U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore is a Clinton scumbag.
That wouldn't have stopped the Oklahoma University bomber, or the Lockerbie bombing. These searches aren't random, they are set by a private entity (in this case the NFL) to allow entry into their venue. And you can't say this is public space either, you can't get in unless you pay the private entity who rented the stadium.
Your liberties are not being infinged upon if event is being held at a private venue instead of a public event under government authority.
Targeting middle eastern men with box cutters would have stopped 9-11.
And hopefully Mr Johnson will be in attendance.
I disagree. A Bucs game is a private venue. You don't want to be patted down, don't go.
This has been going on forever at concerts, it isn't a freedom issue, anyone who doesn't want to go to the event isn't frisked, but the owner or lessee has the right (or should) to refuse entry to anyone they wish.
This is not Naziville USA.
They check bags, fine, but don't hang this judge for erring on the side of civil liberties.
See my post# 16 that follows. You believe you have an expensive fountainpen in your pocket...and the security guy counters that it's a dagger and it must be surrendered. The whole private property thing gets a little tedious.
~ Blue Jays ~
You don't have to surrender the pen, you just don't go into the venue. I carry a pocketknife, I know enough not to carry it anywhere where I would be frisked.
They are really trying to destroy America, aren't they? Even if flies in the face just plain common sense.
They often say "no outside food or beverages" so what is your response to a person with hypoglycemia who must carry protein or a diabetic who must carry glucose? The knuckleheads who work the door at these places don't know nuance.
Do you see my point? Management of these venues will try virtually everything (even put people with medical conditions at risk) in the attempt to sell another soda or bottle of water. Searching womens' handbags at movie theaters? You don't seriously support that technique, do you? Do you honestly believe that increases your security when you take your kids to see a Harry Potter movie?
~ Blue Jays ~
What is so hard to understand. It is a private event, they can make their own rules. You don't like their rules don't go. Why should the government be allowed to intrude on a private transaction between a consumer and a venue? If a person needs the sugar that badly, they have to fork over the money for the concessions. Or should the owners be required to give free tickets to people who can't afford them?
So: we've just announced to terrorist cells out there planning destruction and mayhem: hey, you won't be patted down at the gates to stadiums packing 60 thousand people!
Maybe the Constitition is a suicide pact after all. The judge seems to think so...
They are going into a private establishment, this has nothing to do with the Constitution.
Actually, I think you can thank James Madison.
It's my belief that you're being intentionally obtuse to be contrarian. In your example, what if you were carrying a small pocketknife that you've carried (legally) for decades and are told is not accepted at the museum for which you've paid in advance to see a special exhibit? Your choice is to sacrifice the sentimental knife or toss the ticket in the garbage. Do you see my point?
We can't have malls, retailers, sporting venues, concert halls, theaters, and restaurants just randomly deciding what they think is permitted and what isn't permitted.
~ Blue Jays ~
Are those not privately owned places? It seems to me that deciding what is permitted in your building is part of that pesky property rights thing.
You answered the question and I see you're being intentionally obtuse.
A diabetic cannot "wait" for sugar identically to the same way a cardiac patient cannot "wait" for nitroglycerin tablets if they feel heart fluctuations. A concert promoter shouldn't be permitted to refuse entry to someone with pills in their pocket because they "think" it might be a recreational/illegal drug.
~ Blue Jays ~
All right, one vote against private property rights. I don't see what is being obtuse about defending those.
So you feel retailers should be permitted to refuse entry to black people simply because they're involved in an inordinate amount of property theft? This is where the "private property" thing loses steam.
~ Blue Jays ~
No, actually, you can thank the "living constitution" of dumb leftists who have no problem banning prayer at school graduations, smoking in restaurants, gun ownership, but can find nothing reasonable about wanting to pat people down who are entering a tightly packed arena when we're at war with fanatics.
Discriminating on the basis of skin color is unpopular, but it is part of that "freedom of association" thing. So yes, I do believe you should be free do be a dick if you want to be.
What are the limits on the use of private property? Who should set them? Where does it stop and why should it stop where you say it should stop?
If you don't like what the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says, I invite you to either try to get it amended, or move to a country where you are 'free' to worship the state all you want.
James Madison and the other Founding Fathers were truly brilliant men. Hopefully the chains will rest lightly on the FReepers who wish to sacrifice liberty in pursuit of safety.
~ Blue Jays ~
Wrong. The liberty at play here is the right of a private business to set conditions on attendance. No one is forcing the customer to a pat down. He may simply go home. You do not have a 'right' to attend private sector events free of any conditions.
Hey, that's profilin'...and profilin' is wrong!
See my post #39.
So do the residents of Tampa get to attend the events for free? Obviously the city rents the venue to a private enterprise that sets the terms of admission.
That three feet of personal space comes in real handy.
" Stadiums and venues are using this as "smoke and mirrors" to get a look at your stuff to see if you're bringing your own Poland Spring to a summer ballgame rather than buying their $6.00 bottle. "
Anyone who has been to the Raleigh, NC, Entertainment and Sports Arena knows this too well. They won't even let you bring an EMPTY plastic bottle in to fill up at the water fountain at that place. I know b/c they wouldn't let me. Basically they wanted to make sure I had to buy their water.
They say it's for security but it's about profit. And if they choose to have these policies then I choose to vote with my feet and avoid that place.
The article says the TSA was the party in the lawsuit. Not the NFL. Not the Bucs.
Eric Clapton/Cream concert at Madison Square Garden
Who the hell would want to go see an Eric Clapton/Cream anyways??