Tampa Sports Authority Files Brief in Pat-down Case

Dec 1, 2005

The Tampa Sports Authority has filed its argument with the Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal, which is considering a legal argument that would ban on security pat-downs for NFL football games at Raymond James Stadium.
The controversy began brewing when a Tampa Bay Buccaneers season ticket holder, aided by the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit against the authority in October, claiming the pat-downs are unconstitutional.
A trial court initially ruled for the plaintiff. “I didn’t think personally that what the Tampa Sports Authority was requiring was unreasonable, but our personal beliefs are not the standard we must be guided by,” Hillsborough Circuit Judge Perry A. Little said from the bench. “A random search of 65,000 people every Sunday is not the way.”
One argument that reportedly resonated with Little was presented by ACLU attorney John Goldsmith, who said: “If there’s some particularized threat for sports venues, why doesn’t Major League Baseball do it? Why doesn’t the NBA do it? Why doesn’t the (Tampa Bay) Lightning do it?. The issue here is a very simple one: Can a public entity as a result of a generalized threat of terrorism eviscerate the Fourth Amendment rights of every single (person) that walks into a football game?”
Little, however, later changed his mind, staying his own order until the appeals court could hear the arguments of both sides
The TSA’s brief submitted on November 18 was that “terrorism is a genuine and serious threat to NFL games” and that Johnston and other Bucs fans had been given fair warning about the searches.
Furthermore, it wrote that “there is no constitutional right to watch a professional football game in person. Forgoing that experience is not comparable to forgoing interstate travel, yet in numerous security search cases courts have upheld as consensual air-traveler searches to prevent terrorist attacks.”


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