Rob Carty, a reader at Power Line, directed author Scott Johnson to a court briefing that really serves Liberty Free Media’s readers well. In this particular article are the legal findings of Judge Lynn N. Hughes, of the US District Court in South Texas, regarding a rather interesting case in which the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) seized a bunch of money from American citizens who were, well, lets say a bit confused at what they were being asked for.
The travelers, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, weren’t sure if Travelers’ checks counted as currency, something frankly I’m not sure of. It turns out they are! And, because they had more checks than cash and because they had more than they’d originally estimated, the TSA officers in question decided to – you got it! – take all of their money!
Because why not?
Another Case of an Unelected Judge Doing Right.
I love how the world ties things together. I just wrote an article about why its important we have independent judges in the country. The answer I gave was the “Cash for Kids” case of Mark Ciaverella. It was a negative example, one showing all the reasons why it would be bad to, say, amend the Constitution to put term limits on judges, or to make them subject to direct elections.
This right here? Judge Hughes’ just proved all of the good reasons for it. Hughes points out that the uncertainty of Mr. Jones’ declarations were used as justification for these TSA agents to later, upon discovering (surprise!) that the guessed amount of money was not correct, seize his assets. Judge Hughes also lays blame upon the fact that the TSA agents performed poorly in the first place, failing to help Mr. Jones with counting out the exact value, so as to avoid any problems.
I suppose one might counter-argue that since 911, people travelling should be damned well prepared to deal with the TSA. Hell, I have a long-standing friend who worked for the TSA for years and he made clear just how much BS some travelers thought they could get away with under the guise of not knowing the law. He also made clear, however, how much BS the TSA could get away with in abusing that lack of knowledge. This friend no longer works for them, and was a great employee (Genuinely had some of the highest marks at his post), and he never gave me any confidential information (if I’d asked, he’d have refused, and we both knew that). But I did learn just how interesting the system was, through him.
Independent Judges: Fighting Bad Bureaucracy since 1788
I talk about this “system” because political pressure can and would be applied to prevent what might be viewed as a “reduction” in the TSA’s ability to “protect” America. If judges were voted on, or if they were regularly and easily replaced, do you believe any judge in his right mind (that is, wanting to stay put as a judge) would be half as bold with his argument as Judge Hughes was?
Of the TSA, to wit:
“Its mission statement – which none of the officers could recall at the trial – is to serve the American public with vigilance, integrity, and professionalism. They displayed none of these. ”
- Judge Lynn Hughes, US District Court of the Southern District of Texas, as reported by Power Line Blog.
Think about what a serious blow to the TSA that is! None of the officers he spoke to at the trial could even recall the mission statement of their organization? What level of incompetence was allowed to blossom at this particular TSA post? I mean, I know its the George Bush International Airport and all, but I didn’t see a W in there! (Crickets). Well! Next joke, then!
In all seriousness, you can’t say the entire TSA and its entire staff are bad. Many of them are hard working Americans who are just trying to do the right thing and protect us from threats both foreign and domestic, both real and imagined! Yet here we have three guys who, as Judge Hughes put it best: “They wanted a statistic for their supervisor, and they cudgeled the Joneses to get one.”
Thankfully, we had an independent judge to rule on what he knew to be the truth – that the TSA was wrong, the Joneses were wronged, they have hopefully been as righted as government can make them, and now things may hopefully be a little less hellacious for future travelers.
One can hope.