On the Colloquy: The Fourth Amendment and Airport Screening Issues

The online companion to the Northwestern University Law Review is proud to feature companion essays on the Fourth Amendment and newly invasive airport screening methods.

In Revisiting “Special Needs” Theory Via Airport Searches, Professor Alexander Reinert examines the controversy surrounding the Travel Security Administration’s new airport search regime by reference to the Fourth Amendment jurisprudence that developed in response to the first instantiation of mass airport searches in the early 1960s. While the Fourth Amendment approaches developed in the 1970s remain relevant today, Professor Reinert argues, TSA’s new search regime is more difficult to square with traditional Fourth Amendment principles than were the FAA’s initial airport screening procedures; and precisely because of the pressure on courts to adjust Fourth Amendment doctrine to meet the perceived needs of the TSA and the traveling public, it is all the more important that new doctrinal limitations accompany any judicial acceptance of the TSA’s new search regime.

In his companion piece The Bin Laden Exception, Professor Erik Luna complements Professor Reinert’s Essay on the Fourth Amendment and airport safety by providing context on terrorism and the decade of Osama bin Laden. Specifically, Professor Luna argues what is at play in the airport search context is not a previously recognized exception to the Fourth Amendment, but instead an entirely new exemption from otherwise applicable requirements, driven by an abiding fear of al Qaeda and its now-deceased kingpin rather than a reasoned assessment of terrorism-related risks.

Read both pieces online at the Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy.

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