Court Orders TSA to Publish Rules in Response to NCTE Suit
Last Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an order in the National Center for Transgender Equality’s (NCTE) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The lawsuit was filed in July 2015, along with privacy advocates the Competitive Enterprise Institute and The Rutherford Institute, against DHS for failing to comply with the Court’s 2011 order to create regulations for the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) use of full body scanners in airports. The court order in response to the suit requires DHS, in the next 30 days, to “submit to the court a schedule for the expeditious issuance of a final rule within a reasonable time.”
The order falls short of the lawsuit’s request by only requiring DHS to produce a schedule for complying with the 2011 court order, rather than requiring DHS to issue its final regulations within 90 days, which allows room for DHS to continue to stall completing its rulemaking mandate. Nonetheless NCTE welcomes the order as a necessary first step in correcting TSA’s unregulated use of body scanners that has lead to privacy violations, harassment and embarrassment of transgender travelers. Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE Director of Policy states: "We're glad the court is holding the TSA to its mandate to follow the law. We hope TSA will listen to the thousands who commented on their proposed rule and replace invasive body scanners with simple, sensible screening."
TSA has been using full body scanners in airports across the country without any regulations for over seven years. After the same DC federal court ordered DHS to create final regulations for TSA’s use of body scanners in 2011, DHS eventually proposed regulations and opened them up to public comment in 2013, and now—two years after hearing from the public—they still have not published the final rule, effectively shielding TSA’s operation and use of body scanners from any supervision or accountability to the public.
NCTE is committed to making travel safe and welcoming for all travelers. You can learn more about your rights at airport security here.