Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Supreme Court Rejects Case On Bucs' Pat-Downs
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan who challenged the team's pat-down searches at Raymond James Stadium. High school civics teacher Gordon Johnston took his case to the high court after a loss in Atlanta's 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. He had previously been successful in rulings from a state circuit judge and a U.S. District judge. "I'm greatly disappointed," Johnston said today.The security pat-downs were halted for three years until their resumption in October. They continued as Johnston pursued his appeal, which the Supreme Court turned down Wednesday. "We are obviously happy with the ruling, and we think the Supreme Court was correct in declining to undertake jurisdiction of the case," said Rick Zabak, attorney for the Tampa Sports Authority, which runs the stadium. A call to the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Johnston, was not immediately returned. The sports authority deploys about 175 people to conduct the searches. The workers use the back of their hands to search people above the waist. Male and female workers search only members of their own sex. Bags are searched and fans are asked to remove their hats. The National Football League started requiring the pat-downs for all NFL games in August 2005. Johnston filed suit after the second Bucs' game of the 2005 season. Hillsborough Circuit Court in Tampa ordered an injunction stopping the searches Nov. 2, 2005. In September 2008, the U.S. District Court in Tampa lifted the injunction. In ruling against Johnston, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said he knew about the NFL search policy but had consented to the searches when he allowed himself to be patted down. Johnston, a Buccaneers season ticket holder, continued to attend the games while his lawsuit bounced back and forth in the court system.
News Channel 8 reporter Krista Klaus contributed to this report. Information from Tribune archives was used in this report.