The 4th amendment protects “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” And I think most of us would consider virtual strip searches and crotch groping to be unreasonable searches.
But according to former assistant TSA administrator Mo McGowan, the 4th amendment is just going to have to go out the window when it comes to air travel safety:
Sadly, there is some legal precedent to chucking the 4th amendment out the window for the sake of public safety. In 1990 the Rhenuist-lead Supreme Court ruled in Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz that police sobriety checkpoints were a violation of the 4th amendment but that the violation was trivial in the face the state’s need to promote public safety by stopping and searching motorists without probable cause.
It wouldn’t be hard to imagine government lawyers arguing against claims that the TSA is violating our 4th amendment rights using the same argument. That the nation’s need for airline security is more important than a citizens right not to have an x-ray scan of their bodies made. Or more important than grandma’s right to fly on a plan without having her breasts fondled by a stranger.
Meaning, essentially, that our inalienable rights are entirely alienable when the government finds it convenient for the always present “greater good.”