Notice & Comment

Constitutional Law and Separation of Powers/Freedom of Information and Privacy/Rulemaking: D.C. Circuit Requires Notice-and-Comment Rulemaking for TSA Rule, by Jonathan Rusch

On July 15, in Electronic Privacy Information Center v. DHS, No. 10-1157, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that a decision by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to screen airline passengers by using advanced imaging technology (AIT) instead of magnetometers should have been the subject of notice-and-comment rulemaking before being adopted. The Court granted the petition for review insofar as it claimed that the TSA had not justified its failure to initiate notice-and-comment rulemaking before announcing that it would use AIT scanners for primary screening. As the Court stated, “None of the exceptions urged by the TSA justifies its failure to give notice of and receive comment upon such a rule, which is legislative and not merely interpretive, procedural, or a general statement of policy.”

The Court also denied the petition with respect to the petitioners’ claims that the use of AIT violated various federal statutes and the Fourth Amendment. Acknowledging “the obvious need for the TSA to continue its airport security operations without interruption,” it remanded the rule to the TSA without vacating it, and instructed the agency “promptly to proceed in a manner consistent with this opinion.”

This post was originally published on the legacy ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Notice and Comment blog, which merged with the Yale Journal on Regulation Notice and Comment blog in 2015.

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