04 August 2005

NYCLU Files Suit Over Subway Searches

The American (yeah right) Civil Liberties Union chapter in New York is known as the NYCLU. Today, they are filing a suit in federal court over the random bag searches in the New York subway system. I first learned of this on Fox And Friends this morning, but could not find any source material to cite until now. The NBC affiliate in New York WNBC 4 is reporting:

Random searches of bags and packages carried by subway riders are unconstitutional and ineffective at stopping terrorists from attacking the heart of the city's public transit system, a civil rights lawyer charged Wednesday. Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the organization will file a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to challenge the city's new policy, enforced after deadly bombings in London last month. "This program is unprecedented in terms of the threat it poses to core constitutional rights," he said. Five plaintiffs to be introduced at a news conference Thursday would include a survivor of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center whose bag was inspected in one of the random searches announced July 21 by police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the NYCLU said. Since the searches began, thousands of people seeking to ride at the city's 468 subway stations have had their belongings searched, the NYCLU maintains. "We do not object to reasonable searches, but we cannot and will not stand by while the police department seeks to embark upon an unprecedented program that subjects millions of people to suspicionless searches and serves virtually no public safety purpose," Dunn said. He said the search program leaves most subway entrances unmonitored and results in only innocent people being searched, especially since people can walk away and enter the subway system where there are no police. "It certainly appears that the subway system is wide open for people that want to bring bombs into it," he added. The ineffective method used by police "simply cannot justify eliminating the core constitutional protection that people cannot be searched by the police without suspicion of wrongdoing," he said. The city law office was awaiting the NYCLU's filing of the legal claim and would evaluate it thoroughly, spokeswoman Kate O'Brien Ahlers said. ***There is also a video report that you can see here.
Let's first look at the Constitution since they are claiming a violation. The 4th Amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Now, the key word in this Amendment is unreasonable. I'm sure that no one would deny that national security concerns would trump the civil rights claims in this case. The National Security concerns makes these searches not only reasonable, but responsible. Most New Yorkers seem to not mind the searches. As a matter of fact, Fox News Channel has reported during the Fox And Friends show that the NYPD is having a problem with people volunteering for their bags to be searched. Only those who are committing crimes should fear their bags being searched. A crime is a crime. If you are searched and you have drugs in your bag, you deserve to be arrested. You've committed a crime. If you are searched and you are illegally carrying a gun, you deserve to be arrested. But if you are about to get onto the subway, and they guy in front of you is wearing a winter parka in August, smells heavily of cologne or perfume, wouldn't you want his bag checked? I would. Let's put this into perspective folks. If you are not committing a crime, the inconvenience of being held up by a 2 minute search is worth knowing the train that you get on won't go BOOM! Let us hope that the judge hearing this case this morning has enough sense to throw it out.
Special thanks to my friends Indepundit, Mudville Gazette, and Outside The Beltway. Blogger's 1st Amendment Pledge If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.


Blogger The MaryHunter said...

I guess I'm surprised it took them so long to make a to do about the searches. Though the random search protocol is ludicrous, the NYCLU has no grounds for pursuing this. Good for you chasing this down Gribbit.

8/04/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

O'Reilly is talking about now! Thanks for getting it up for me today.

8/04/2005 08:02:00 PM  

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