Random Bag Searches to Continue in Boston

A federal judge today upheld the random bag searches Boston authorities are conducting of public transit passengers.

U.S. District Judge George O'Toole said the searches were a response to a genuine security concern, the intrusion on passengers is limited, and that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has adequately prepared riders to expect the searches. At a hearing Tuesday, the National Lawyers Guild and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee argued that the inspections were unconstitutionally intrusive and violated personal privacy rights.

Since we've been in Boston, we've undergone at least two such searches a day. Of course, we know if advance we are going to be subjected to the searches, so we're careful about what we put in our bags. What about if we weren't on our way to the convention but just going about our daily business in our home city and every time we wanted to board a bus or train, the cops got to see what we were carrying? We'd resent it and wonder how we got to be living in such a police state.

So, to the citizens of Boston, whom the media has reported as being "fine" with the searches, remember that what you don't object to now, may stick around a lot longer than you think. Once we give the Government new powers, it rarely gives them back. The Bush Administration tells us the war on terror is here to stay. How long before these Fourth Amendment "emergency" exceptions become the rule rather than the exception? How many are you willing to tolerate? We're all accustomed to airport searches. Metal detectors have become no big deal. Now public transit searcghes are becoming acceptable. What's next? The grocery store? The movie theater? Outdoor concerts?

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