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Subway Searches Challenged in Court

Monday, October 31, 2005

The constitutionality of random bag searches in the subways is being challenged in federal court today by civil liberties lawyers. WNYC's Collin Campbell has more.

At issue is a random search of the subways that was put in place after deadly bombings by terrorists in London's subway system in July. The New York Civil Liberties Union brought the lawsuit on behalf of several subway riders saying the search program "has no meaningful value in preventing the entry of explosive devices into the system by terrorists."

The city maintains that the mere presence of a random search program, regardless of how it is administered, is a valuable tool to thwart terrorists who prefer to target vulnerable areas with a low police presence for attacks. Surveys of subway riders have shown that New Yorkers have taken the random searches in stride with other more stringent security measures in the city.

But critics have questioned whether specific groups of riders or neighborhoods are being targeted. U-S District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan is scheduled to hear evidence and testimony in the case for two to three days. Afterward, lawyers will present written and oral arguments to the judge before a ruling is made.

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