Our client was detained, interrogated, and ultimately arrested at the St. Louis airport in March 2009 when TSA agents found approximately $4,700 cash in his carry-on bag. In fact, it was the receipts from cash sales of materials at a meeting of a national political organization. TSA has statutory authority to conduct administrative searches for threats to transportation, but it has no authority to search for evidence of ordinary crimes. Its conduct here also violated the Fourth Amendment because carrying $4,700 in cash does not create probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred or is afoot.

We filed our lawsuit in June 2009 and sought to prohibit TSA from conducting pre-flight searches for items other than weapons and explosives. Soon after it was filed, TSA issued a new policy that “screening may not be conducted to detect evidence of crimes unrelated to transportation security,” and that “traveling with large amounts of currency is not illegal.” In November 2009 we voluntarily dismissed the case. 

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Gura & Possessky, P.L.L.C.

Date filed

June 18, 2009