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Jesse Ventura's lawsuit over airport body search tossed

ST. PAUL A federal judge Thursday tossed out former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's lawsuit that argued body searches at airports violated his right against unreasonable and unwarranted searches. In her dismissal, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard...

Jesse Ventura (2002)
In this Dec. 4, 2002 file photo, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura reacts to the projected shortfall expected to hit $4.56 billion over the next 2 1/2 years during a news conference at the State Capitol in St. Paul. Now former Gov. Ventura, he will portray the governor of Indiana in the movie "The Drunk," now filming in Terre Haute. (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid, File)

ST. PAUL

A federal judge Thursday tossed out former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's lawsuit that argued body searches at airports violated his right against unreasonable and unwarranted searches.

In her dismissal, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson didn't address the merits of Ventura's suit, but rather said she lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.

She wrote that Ventura was challenging a Transportation Security Administration order and that the law says such directives can be challenged only in a federal court of appeals.

Ventura's attorney, David Olsen, said he hadn't had a chance to advise the former governor on his options.

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Ventura, a former professional wrestler who was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998, sued the TSA in January, two years after he had a titanium hip implanted.

The hip sets off metal detectors at airports, and in September 2010, the TSA required screeners to pull such people aside and search them more thoroughly, either by using "whole-body imaging" or physical pat-down searches.

In his pleadings to the court, Ventura contended that he was no threat to airline safety and that the searches violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches.

His suit said that despite his status "as a frequent flyer, a veteran of the United States military and having been the state of Minnesota's highest-elected official...TSA did not give him the option of submitting to less intrusive security measures such as use of a magnetic

hand wand, nor was he given the option of a 'trusted traveler' medical or other exemption from the (whole-body imaging) or pat-down body search procedures."

After a hearing in his case in federal court in July, he approached a Justice Department lawyer and complained to her, "This is not the country I was born in. We're a fascist nation now."

The government had asked Nelson to dismiss the suit, arguing that TSA orders can be challenged only in a federal appeals court. But Ventura argued that the enhanced searches weren't orders, but rather a secret "standard operating procedure."

In her order, Nelson acknowledged that TSA's directive was considered secret "for reasons of national security" and that "neither Governor Ventura nor this court have been privy to the details of the enhanced screening process or the standard operating procedure."

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Nelson ruled that her court wasn't the proper venue to hear the case. She wrote that other courts "uniformly hold that all challenges to TSA orders, policies and procedures must be brought in the Circuit Court of Appeals....The government's motion to dismiss is therefore granted."

Ventura hosts "Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura" on cable's truTV network. His lawsuit said that working on the show required him to fly two or three times a week. In doing so, he encountered TSA's enhanced screening policy firsthand and felt they were "unwarranted and unreasonable intrusions" on his "personal privacy and dignity and his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures."

After the hearing in July, Ventura said that TSA's actions were part of "the locking down of the American citizens" and that he'd rather face terrorists "than give up one of my rights."

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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