Monday, May 16, 2011

Texas To TSA: "Don't Touch My Junk"

The Texas Legislature has passed a bill prohibiting the Transportation Security Administration from "intrusive pat-downs". They've really taken this opportunity to include a lot of dirty, sexy, hilarious words. The terms "penetration," "anus," and "sexual organ" appear four, eight, and nine times, respectively. The Daily Mail states "The bill makes touching passengers in "inappropriate" ways a criminal offense. The measure makes it illegal for anyone conducting pat-downs to touch 'the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person' including through clothing. It also prohibits searches 'that would be offensive to a reasonable person.' Republican Representative David Simpsom, the bill's chief sponsor believes it will keep TSA officials from treating travellers like criminals."

"This (bill) has to do with dignity and travel, and prohibiting indecent, groping searches," he said.

The bill would subject TSA agents (federal employees) to a Class A misdemeanor if they inappropriately touch someone or if they search an individual without probable cause of criminal activity. Can this be real? The TSA has responded via their blog,

"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."

Blogger Michael Boldin of The Tenth Amendment Center calls the TSA "liars" and writes,

"The problem here? The statement is false. Ignorance from the TSA is unlikely, so I’ll call a spade a spade. They’re lying. The supremacy clause says nothing of the sort. Here’s the full text:

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; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

So, in simple terms, what does the supremacy clause mean? Just what it says. The constitution is supreme. And any federal laws made in line with the constitution is supreme. Nothing more, nothing less. Notice there’s not one single word in the actual text that says anything about states regulating the federal government as the TSA claims."

The Texas Tribune reports that Austin resident Jason Stoddard, a Libertarian who ran for state attorney general in the last three elections, said that while he supports the intent of the bill, he believes the authors should clarify how it's written. Federal employees currently hold immunity for acts they carry out while out duty, he said, and state officials are likely to face criminal charges from impeding TSA agents from doing their job. "And then who pays?" he asked. "Ultimately taxpayers pay."

Simpson and staff defend the bill as not nullifying federal laws and nor prohibiting agents from doing their job, only prohibiting federal employees of inappropriately touch an individual without probable cause. More metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs were recommended instead.

Texas vs. the U.S. Government: round 798,490.

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