By Jim Kouri
The TSA responded to a Texas bill interposing on behalf of its citizens to protect them from overreaching airport screening searches by fabricating a constitutional principle, according to conservatives and security analysts.
The Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed HB1937 138-0 on Friday evening. Introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longwood), the legislation would make it a state offense for any public servant to touch a person’s private areas, or touch them in a way a reasonable person would consider offensive, as a condition of travel or entering a public building.
“Groping innocent citizens does little to enhance security, but it does much to reduce our freedom and dignity,” Simpson said. “Freedom brings people together. This is not about Republicans or Democrats, but about the dignity of every man, women, boy or girl, and their freedom to travel without being treated as a criminal suspect.”
The legislation now moves on to the Texas Senate where Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) will sponsor the bill.
The TSA responded in a statement on its blog, insisting it has the right to perform Fourth Amendment violating searches based on the supremacy clause in the Constitution.
“What’s our take on the Texas House of Representatives voting to ban the current TSA pat-down? Well, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article. VI. Clause 2) prevents states from regulating the federal government.”
But Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin called the TSA statement an intentional deception.
“The problem here? The statement is false. TSA ignorance is unlikely, so I’ll call a spade a spade. They’re lying,” he said. “Notice there’s not one single word in the actual text that says anything about states regulating the federal government, as the TSA claims. They’re just making things up as they go,” Bolden said.
In fact, the supremacy clause reads:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States shall be the supreme Law of the Land.
“Do federal laws passed and enforced in accordance with the powers granted in the Constitution supersede state laws? Absolutely. But to make that point and then insist that the federal government can enforce any old law it sees fit in any way it wants to, even laws that violate the Bill of Rights – that’s patently ridiculous,” TAC communications director Mike Maharrey said.
“By definition, an unconstitutional act is illegal. How can anybody assert an illegal act is superior to a valid state law?” he asked rhetorically.
Simpson said the legislation was not meant to pick a fight with the federal government, but simply intended to stop the TSA from bullying Texas citizens. Legislators carefully crafted the language of the bill, and Simpson said he does not think it contravenes any federal legislation, pointing out that the Supreme Court ruled the Fourth Amendment a minimum standard, allowing states to further protect their citizens under the Tenth Amendment.
“They can talk about the supremacy clause all they want, but even bureaucrats are subject to the U.S. Constitution, the Fourth Amendment, and state laws prohibiting sexual assault, harassment etcetera. We cannot stand by and allow anyone to disregard our constitutional rights and violate our citizens,” Simpson said.