The suit was filed on behalf of Daniel and Kathy Sheehan of Danville. The Sheehans, long time season ticket holders, were upset by the decision in 2005 to conduct the searches of fans coming into the games. The search consists of security operatives patting down the legs and sides of fans in search of weapons or other contraband.
The Sheehans contend the searches are a violation of privacy.
ACLU attorney Ann Brick said residents are constitutionally protected from unwarranted intrusion. "The California Constitution says that we don't have to pay for access to goods and services with our privacy," she stated.
The change in security measures was instituted on direction of the NFL, as an additional safeguard against terrorist attacks. Attorneys for the 49ers contend that fans have the option of not attending the games if they do not wish to be subject to the pat-down searches.
49ers attorneys also claim that purchasing the tickets provides tacit consent to the searches. This argument held enough merit that the trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the sports team.
"I think the most important thing to keep in mind about this case is that the 49ers' theory that they can present privacy invasions on a take-it-or-leave-it basis and Californians' only option is to not go to the games means that the privacy provisions of our State Constitution don't affect our state's private businesses," Brick said Wednesday morning.
The Supreme Court took the case under review after a short hearing Tuesday. A written ruling will be handed down in the next three months.