July 29, 2012 14 Comments
Every week or so I get an e-mail or a comment asking about suing the TSA, either to change policy (get rid of the scanners and pat-downs) or because of personal incidents (TSA screeners assaulting them, physically or sexually, stolen goods, false charges, etc.). Many of the stories are heartbreaking and all have been wronged by the TSA. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned, but my first question is: Are you ready for the fight? Here’s what it takes, assuming you don’t have a civil rights organization representing you and paying your way:
First, there are filing fees and other hard costs: printing (sometimes courts require up to 40 copies of a document!), mailing, travel, paid research databases, etc. So far, this has totaled in the four-figures range.
But, more importantly, there are the time costs. While writing a brief that has now reached 18 pages today, I was curious how much I’ve had to write so far in order maintain these actions against the TSA. I went through my all my Word documents in my TSA lawsuit folders, and the totals are:
U.S. District Court: 189 pages
11th Circuit Court of Appeals: 121 Pages
U.S. Supreme Court: 47 pages
Total: 357 pages
My writer friend tells me that typical for her industry is that a page takes an hour. With the research required for legal documents, I’d double that, and that doesn’t even take into account the time it took to put to research, create, and edit the awesome videos of the nude body scanners being defeated, not to mention the $0.99 sewing kit required to take down the $1 billion scanner fleet!
Taking this much time away from work is why I’m so grateful for the donations that many of you have sent, which allow me to continue to fight the TSA without ending up homeless. It’s a strong statement about our legal system that seeking justice for something so basic as “don’t take nude pictures of me” takes so much, and I’m not even close to finished. It’s also something to keep in mind if you want to sue the TSA but don’t want to pay a lawyer to do it for you (and can you imagine how much a lawyer would have billed to write 357 pages?): if you want into the legal side, be ready to have sore wrists.
But, if you just want to fight TSA thuggery in general, there is lots to be done. People are blogging, people are making videos, people are “traditional protesting” (flyers, tables, bullhorns, soapbox, etc.), people are contacting their representatives, people are donating money, people are talking to their friends and fellow travelers, and people are standing up and saying “no” (sometimes phrased as “I opt out!”). Hitting the TSA from all angles is the way to obtain change, and ALL of these are equally important tools in the fight. If you’ve participated, thank you, and feel free to share the creative ways you’ve found to protest the TSA in the comments to inspire others.