D.C. Circuit on the New “Advanced Imaging Technology” Airport Searches

From Electronic Privacy Information Center v. United States Department of Homeland Security (D.C. Cir., decided this morning):

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and two individuals petition for review of a decision by the Transportation Security Administration to screen airline passengers by using advanced imaging technology instead of magnetometers. They argue this use of AIT violates various federal statutes and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and, in any event, should have been the subject of notice-andcomment rulemaking before being adopted. Although we are not persuaded by any of the statutory or constitutional arguments against the rule, we agree the TSA has not justified its failure to issue notice and solicit comments. We therefore grant the petition in part….

To sum up, first, we grant the petition for review insofar as it claims the TSA has not justified its failure to initiate notice-and-comment rulemaking before announcing it would use AIT scanners for primary screening. None of the exceptions urged by the TSA justifies its failure to give notice of and receive comment upon such a rule, which is legislative and not merely interpretive, procedural, or a general statement of policy. Second, we deny the petition with respect to the petitioners’ statutory arguments and their claim under the Fourth Amendment, except their claim under the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act], which we dismiss for lack of standing. Finally, due to the obvious need for the TSA to continue its airport security operations without interruption, we remand the rule to the TSA but do not vacate it, and instruct the agency promptly to proceed in a manner consistent with this opinion.

Thanks to Tom Ault for the pointer.

UPDATE: I see Orin is working on a post about the Fourth Amendment issues, which I expect will be up very shortly. Please limit comments in this post to the administrative law questions and the other non-Fourth-Amendment questions. Please save the Fourth Amendment comments for Orin’s post. Thanks!

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