Court Says Berating TSA Officers During A Pat-Down Is Disorderly Conduct, Not Free Speech

While we’ve heard about cases where you can say, strip down naked in front of the Transportation Security Administration, an act that a judge found to be protected speech under the First Amendment, it’s a different matter when it comes to using your words to express your thoughts about pat-downs. A mom who reportedly berated TSA officers attempting to pat-down her daughter found that out the hard way.

Well, she found out the hard way because her curse words landed her in jail at the time, which the Associated Press says lead to her subsequent trial over the brouhaha.

The Tennessee mom wasn’t happy about her 14-year-old daughter submitting to a pat-down at Nashville International Airport, testified a TSA  officer, who said that before it happened the woman yelled in her face that she didn’t want anyone “touching her daughter’s crotch” and, according to Fox News, didn’t want “someone to see our bodies naked.”

Although she did let her daughter undergo the pat-down, she refused one for herself and was then arrested. She said in her trial that while she might’ve uttered a few choice oaths, she wasn’t in anyone’s face and felt it was simply a “normal conversation” about the inappropriateness of the pat-down.

Her lawyer told reporters, “Telling a police officer your opinion, even in strong language, to me that’s a First Amendment right.”

Jurors disagreed and after deliberating for four hours found her guilty of disorderly conduct. She faced up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine at the time of the July 2011 incident but a judge put her on probation because she had no criminal record.

Using your words to fight is one thing, but you can’t just yell whatever you want in whoever’s face you want to yell it in, especially if that person is working in an official capacity.

As one TSA officer in the case noted, “The defendant should have been aware that her behavior would prevent others from carrying out their lawful activities.”

Mother found guilty in Tenn. pat-down case [Associated Press]
Mom guilty of disorderly conduct; berated TSA officers for daughter’s Tenn. airport pat-down [Fox News]