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Security "pat-downs" of fans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers games are unconstitutional and unreasonable, a federal judge ruled Friday, throwing into question the practice at NFL games nationwide.
U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore issued an order siding with a season-ticket holder who had sued to stop the fan searches that began last season after the NFL implemented enhanced security measures.
Further, Whittemore said the Tampa Sports Authority failed to establish that the risks outweigh the need to protect the public from unreasonable searches.
Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, which sued on Johnston's behalf, said Whittemore's decision could turn out to be significant.
"It's obviously not going to govern what's happening around the country, but it's certainly going to be an influential precedent," Simon said. "Other courts may look at it."
Simon said he thinks the decision shows that courts are "pushing back" at governmental attempts to violate citizens' civil rights on the basis of a perceived threat of terrorism or crime.
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