Bag Search on Public Property

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Hey guys
I did some searching around here and on the internet but haven't come up with a solid answer.

I know that the Constitution does not apply to private entities. So if I want to search you coming onto my property, I'm not violating a 4th Amendment right. And if a restaurant wants to search you before you sit down to eat, they're not violating any Constitutional right.

The MBTA is a government body (or something?)
https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXXII/Chapter161a/Section2
So it must abide by the Constitution. The transportation police are also under the government so same applies.

How do they get away with unconsented searches?
I found an article that said that police can search anyone in a designated area.

http://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/find-legal-answers/police-powers-and-your-rights/getting-searched

However, it doesnt cite any source for this information.

Anyone have info?

I go to Suffolk, and I always wonder what I would say if the Police wanted to search me there. They have authority through the Colonel of MSP, so they must abide by the Constitution. However, Suffolk is a private school so a school administrator could request to search bags - I would either have to comply or leave school property. (If they don't let me leave, I assume that is kidnapping and they would have a lawsuit on their hands.)

These are the things I think about during the day.
And no, I'm not bringing explosives on the T or in school.
 

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You can refuse the search request, but they will make you leave the area as far as I know.
Only to a certain point. Once the search starts, the MA SJC has ruled that you cannot withdraw consent. For example, if you submit a bag to an xray machine, you cannot withdraw consent if the xray image causes the operator to decide a physical search is in order.
 
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With respect to Suffolk University: they are private and have a code of conduct, which probably includes some type of speech code and other restrictions on your behavior and activities - sometime off campus as well. On local university expelled a student for (legal) possession of a firearm while off campus and out of state.

A more interesting (to me) questions is what would happen if you consented to a search on the T and they found that you were (legally) carrying a firearm. [pot]
 
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You can refuse the search request, but they will make you leave the area as far as I know. Since they are not actually compelling you to open your bag, it does not violate the 4th A. It still sucks though.

But how can they refuse the service of the T for not consenting to a search? It's a public service, can they do that?

With respect to Suffolk University: they are private and have a code of conduct, which probably includes some type of speech code and other restrictions on your behavior and activities - sometime off campus as well. On local university expelled a student for (legal) possession of a firearm while off campus and out of state.

A more interesting (to me) questions is what would happen if you consented to a search on the T and they found that you were (legally) carrying a firearm. [pot]

Surprisingly, MGL allows the carry of a firearm on university property with the written consent of the person in charge of security there. Not surprisingly, Suffolk denied my requests to do so, twice.
The behavior code off campus is bogus, but it's private, they can do whatever they want. Sad that schools are that ridiculous, and get away with it.
That issue has been addressed on NES already :), I had the same question bud!
 

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Hey guys
I did some searching around here and on the internet but haven't come up with a solid answer.

I know that the Constitution does not apply to private entities. So if I want to search you coming onto my property, I'm not violating a 4th Amendment right. And if a restaurant wants to search you before you sit down to eat, they're not violating any Constitutional right.

The MBTA is a government body (or something?)
https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXXII/Chapter161a/Section2
So it must abide by the Constitution. The transportation police are also under the government so same applies.

How do they get away with unconsented searches?
I found an article that said that police can search anyone in a designated area.

http://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/find-legal-answers/police-powers-and-your-rights/getting-searched

However, it doesnt cite any source for this information.

Anyone have info?

I go to Suffolk, and I always wonder what I would say if the Police wanted to search me there. They have authority through the Colonel of MSP, so they must abide by the Constitution. However, Suffolk is a private school so a school administrator could request to search bags - I would either have to comply or leave school property. (If they don't let me leave, I assume that is kidnapping and they would have a lawsuit on their hands.)

These are the things I think about during the day.
And no, I'm not bringing explosives on the T or in school.

You DO realize one of your links is to an Australian law site, right?

Not to diminish the question, but still.


Sent from my chimney using smoke signals.
 
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OK, lets kick it up a notch.
You are a resident of Woods Hole or Hopkinton during the respective races held in those specific areas. No entry with bags is allowed unless consent to search is given. How does that fly?
It happened during the Falmouth RR last year as some people were coming off ferries and HAD to open their bags for search.
 

MisterHappy

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It happens, because it does.

Everyone agrees that a lockdown/exclusion zone/clean area is a good thing for everyone. So it stands.

If you were to go watch the Marathon, on a public street, with a handgun that you were appropriately licensed for, and should be accidentally "outed", I'm sure that there would be issues. After all, why think that you need to protect yourself when all the cops inside 495 are along the road?

[rolleyes]
 

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OK, lets kick it up a notch.
You are a resident of Woods Hole or Hopkinton during the respective races held in those specific areas. No entry with bags is allowed unless consent to search is given. How does that fly?
It happened during the Falmouth RR last year as some people were coming off ferries and HAD to open their bags for search.

You have a choice. Allow it or you are free to leave. The fact that nobody is forcing you to submit means no violation of your rights. You may not like it, but that is a distinguishing feature legally.
 
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You have a choice. Allow it or you are free to leave. The fact that nobody is forcing you to submit means no violation of your rights. You may not like it, but that is a distinguishing feature legally.

Agreed, but what if your home is in the closed off area. Also the case in Falmouth involved people coming off the Cormorant from Naushon. The ferry left them there, they had no choice to leave and were forced into bag searches.
 
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With respect to Suffolk University: they are private and have a code of conduct, which probably includes some type of speech code and other restrictions on your behavior and activities - sometime off campus as well. On local university expelled a student for (legal) possession of a firearm while off campus and out of state.

A more interesting (to me) questions is what would happen if you consented to a search on the T and they found that you were (legally) carrying a firearm. [pot]

I thought it was legal to carry on the T. Most searches I've seen at the train stations only involve bags.
 
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You have a choice. Allow it or you are free to leave. The fact that nobody is forcing you to submit means no violation of your rights. You may not like it, but that is a distinguishing feature legally.

To the OP. This is the answer.

If you go into a T station and the Viper a55hats are there checking bags, you are free to turn around and leave.

So you don't have to consent. But consenting to a search is a condition of entry.

Its the same concept as a restaurant denying entry to armed people. You are free to take your money and your appetite somewhere else.

This is even true of a TSA checkpoint. If at any point in the process you are not comfortable, you can choose to end the search and go back to the dirty side of the airport. The agents don't like this, but this has been pretty well sorted out legally. The idea being that refusing a search does not provide reasonable articulable suspicion, necessary grounds for a Terry stop.

If you (the OP, not LenS) don't know what reasonable articulable suspicion or a Terry stop are, look them up. They are central to this discussion.

- - - Updated - - -

I thought it was legal to carry on the T. Most searches I've seen at the train stations only involve bags.

It is. This came up a few months ago. There is something in their policies. But I don't remember the mitigating situation. It might have applied to employees only, or it might have said "illegal weapons", which is common.

Either way, its not a law. Its a rule. Just like a restaurant owner can say "no guns".

- - - Updated - - -

Agreed, but what if your home is in the closed off area. Also the case in Falmouth involved people coming off the Cormorant from Naushon. The ferry left them there, they had no choice to leave and were forced into bag searches.

I don't know about this specifically. Do you have any links? I do know that years ago, I was going to fly to Martha's Vineyard to visit a friend of mine. I was flying in MY plane. I was planning to do some shooting when I got there. At some point in the summer President Obummer decided to vacation there the same week I was going to go.

The FAA decided that all aircraft had to stop at Plymouth (PYM) for an inspection prior to going to MV. Hmm. Are they going to try to apply aircraft terminal "cleanliness" to MV?

I called the FAA and told them I would of course stop at PYM, but I was going to have guns with me and expected to be able to bring them to MV.
To say they were unprepared for this situation would be a gross understatement. They had no answers and directed me to call the secret service.

I decided against it and just flew into PYM with the guns. The SS guys were a little surprised, but handled it with professionalism. No problems. They said they were more searching for explosives than firearms anyway. But if they had decided to refuse my entry into MV. I still had the option of going home. Thats the key.
 
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Rob Boudrie

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With respect to Suffolk University: they are private and have a code of conduct, which probably includes some type of speech code and other restrictions on your behavior and activities - sometime off campus as well.

A more relevant question would be "could Suffolk expel a student for refusing a search for which where was not cause sufficient for the university PD to conduct an involuntary one?"
 
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A more relevant question would be "could Suffolk expel a student for refusing a search for which where was not cause sufficient for the university PD to conduct an involuntary one?"

Thats a tough one. I'm assuming that the student refusing is willing to turn around and leave.

If the student refuses and insists on entry, that would be grounds for lots of things. Most of them coming from the illegal trespass.
 
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- - - Updated - - -



I don't know about this specifically. Do you have any links? I do know that years ago, I was going to fly to Martha's Vineyard to visit a friend of mine. I was flying in MY plane. I was planning to do some shooting when I got there. At some point in the summer President Obummer decided to vacation there the same week I was going to go.

The FAA decided that all aircraft had to stop at Plymouth (PYM) for an inspection prior to going to MV. Hmm. Are they going to try to apply aircraft terminal "cleanliness" to MV?

I called the FAA and told them I would of course stop at PYM, but I was going to have guns with me and expected to be able to bring them to MV.
To say they were unprepared for this situation would be a gross understatement. They had no answers and directed me to call the secret service.

I decided against it and just flew into PYM with the guns. The SS guys were a little surprised, but handled it with professionalism. No problems. They said they were more searching for explosives than firearms anyway. But if they had decided to refuse my entry into MV. I still had the option of going home. Thats the key.[/QUOTE]

The incident was related to me by a LEO relative, we were discussing how they get around consent on public property when he told me about the ferry crap. The Cormorant drops off right in the middle of the secure area so they had nowhere to go. I guess they could have jumped in the harbor but then they would have got picked up by the CG who had their own exclusion zone! Goes back to you have rights until they don't want you to.

MV presidential vacationing is getting old around here. They set up this weird search station at the Island Queen dock, I think the owner agrees to having it there. Maybe because the Island Queen is cash only lol? So strange seeing SS there searching bags.
 

Rob Boudrie

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A more interesting (to me) questions is what would happen if you consented to a search on the T and they found that you were (legally) carrying a firearm. [pot]
Probably uneventful, but it would start an NES thread fer sur.

TSA response to illegal items at airports is to summon the local PD covering (MSP in the case of Logan) to arrest and arrange prosecution. If a federal team did that in Boston, all they would get is confirmation carry is legal. The only real question is "would the individual be denied entry to the T?".
 
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You have a choice. Allow it or you are free to leave. The fact that nobody is forcing you to submit means no violation of your rights. You may not like it, but that is a distinguishing feature legally.

Exactly. Why are we still asking the question?
 
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You can refuse the search request, but they will make you leave the area as far as I know. Since they are not actually compelling you to open your bag, it does not violate the 4th A. It still sucks though.
I walked into a store at the same time someone was leaving and the detector went off. They wanted to search my bag too. I refused and left the store and they called the cops. I disappeared before the cops showed up. Probably asking to eat pavement if they caught up....
 
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I thought it was legal to carry on the T. Most searches I've seen at the train stations only involve bags.

It is legal to carry on the T. I do it regulatory and recommend it to others. I'm mostly interested in what the reaction would be. I don't expect a lot of people consenting to searches at T stations are carrying guns. The inclination of most gun owners would be to walk the other way can some back when they weren't checking.
 

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So here is the answer - from a lawyer, though I generally disagree. The searches are limited in scope, designed to protect the subway system, and not designed as a general law enforcement tool. They are also voluntary, in the sense that you do not have to consent to be searched, and can leave. Do I agree, no - I assisted some attorney's years ago when I was a law student prior to the DNC in Boston. I cannot tell you how many people threw the leaflets back in my face when I was out protesting at Park Street Station. Last word before I stopped working on the issue as a young lawyer, was that the bomb sniffing machines didn't actually work and it was much security theatre. I managed to dodge actually consenting to a search for YEARS, but either saying no thanks as a walked through the turnstyle, or declining and leaving the station, and coming back 5 mins later, or walking to the next station. I consented once at Lechmere station - and they swabbed the outside of my briefcase and nothing came of it. I carry every day, and usually have extra mags in my bag - so obviously I'm not worried about it.
 

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A more relevant question would be "could Suffolk expel a student for refusing a search for which where was not cause sufficient for the university PD to conduct an involuntary one?"

Student code of conduct gives colleges massive leeway to really screw with their students. I suspect that refusing could result in disciplinary action up to expulsion.
 
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