Bill that would criminalize invasive pat downs set for hearing on Friday
Paul Joseph WatsonPrison Planet.com
With a bill that would ban invasive TSA pat downs in Texas set to be heard by the state legislature on Friday, the federal agency has indicated that it will take legal action to prevent the law being implemented, indicating that the government could once again resort to threatening Texas with a blockade that would impose a de facto “no fly zone” over the state.
The House version of SB 29, a bill that would punish any TSA agent who “touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing,” with a year in jail or a $4,000 fine, was initially shot down last month despite passing the Texas House unanimously after the Justice Department resorted to threats of financial terrorism in resolving to impose a federal blockade to prevent flights operating out of Texas airports.
The DoJ threat to impose a federal blockade against Texas has not been withdrawn, but Robert Mann Jr., president of R.W. Mann & Company, Inc., an airline industry consulting firm in Port Washington, New York, told Forbes that the threat was “not viable,” labeling the idea that the feds would shut down an entire state a “non-starter”.
Following a gargantuan lobbying effort on behalf of pressure groups, Governor Rick Perry was forced to add the legislation to a special session earlier this week and the bill is set to be heard on Friday. State Senator Dan Patrick, the leading sponsor behind the bill, is already confident that the legislation has enough votes for passage.
But although the bill looks like it will sail through, the TSA is determined to turn the vote into little more than a symbolic gesture, by promising to pursue legal action to derail Texas’ efforts to make TSA groping a felony.
“We will carefully review the bill that the legislature brings forward,” the TSA announced in a statement.
“Should a bill pass that limits the ability of TSA and its employees to perform its responsibilities and jeopardizes the safety of the public, we will take whatever legal action is appropriate to ensure travelers are safe when they fly from Texas or any other state.”
The agency is expected to argue that the groping ban is a violation of the Supremacy Clause to the US Constitution, which according to TSA lawyers gives the federal government authority over the states.
However, the Supremacy Clause merely states that the Constitution is supreme, not that the authority of the government is supreme. Indeed, if anything the Supremacy Clause works in favor of the anti-pat down bill because it reinforces the protections guaranteed by the fourth amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has written a letter to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who many blame for putting pressure on Texas Senators that led to the mothballing of the original bill, calling for language to be added to SB 29 specifying that the invasive pat down is only an offense if it is deemed “constitutionally unreasonable”.
Abbott sees the addition of this amendment as a way of avoiding a constitutional fight with the feds, but others will merely see it as a watering down of the bill since the legislation already makes it clear that the search is an offense if it is not backed up by “probable cause,” in other words substantive evidence that a crime is about to be committed that provides reasonable grounds for the TSA to violate an individual’s 4th Amendment rights.
Aside from all the constitutional minutia, the fact is that a police officer, an FBI agent, a park ranger, or anyone else in a position of authority cannot legally stick their hands down an individual’s pants without probable cause in any situation, so why should the TSA be any different?
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Idaho are set to follow Texas’ lead by resurrecting their own legislation that would ban invasive pat downs in the state.
“Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, told IdahoReporter.com said he may address search methods in the next legislative session, set to begin in January.” “I do plan on revisiting the issue,” said Hart, who previously attempted to push through a bill that would have limited the use of naked body scanners in the state last year.