Image: Police search suitcase
John Marshall Mantel  /  AP file
New York police search a commuter’s suitcase at the Union Square subway station in New York.
updated 8/11/2006 3:26:12 PM ET 2006-08-11T19:26:12

A federal appeals court Friday upheld the constitutionality of the city’s random police inspections of subway riders’ bags.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which argued that the searches were ineffective and an unprecedented intrusion into privacy.

The appeals court ruled that a lower court judge properly concluded the program put in place in July 2005 after the deadly London subway bombings was a reasonably effective deterrent and that the intrusion on riders’ privacy was minimal.

It was proper for Judge Richard M. Berman to conclude that preventing a terrorist attack on the subway was important enough to subject subway riders to random searches, the court wrote.

The ruling noted that the system had been targeted, unsuccessfully, at least twice in the last nine years and that it was “unsurprising and undisputed that terrorists view it as a prime target.”

New York Civil Liberties Union attorneys were reading the decision Friday and had no immediate comment.

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