A posse of Lone State lawmakers has a message for the TSA: Don’t mess with Texas.
Republican State Representative David Simpson has introduced two bills targetting the TSA. Here are the highlights:
…(b) An airport operator may not allow body imaging scanning equipment to be installed or operated in any airport in this state.
(c) An airport operator commits an offense if the operator fails to comply with Subsection (b).
(d) An airport operator who commits an offense under Subsection (c) is subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for each day of the violation…
…(3) as part of a search performed to grant access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(A) searches another person without probable cause to believe the person committed an offense; and
(B) touches the anus, sexual organ, or breasts of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.
(f) …. An offense under Subsection (a)(3) is a state jail felony…
Essentialy, Mr. Simpson wants to ban full body scanners and enhanced pat-downs. These are laudable goals.
While I applaud Mr. Simpson’s effort to curb the TSA, I must confess that his efforts are misguided. Under current jurisprudence, Congress has the right to regulate all aspects of interstate commerce (transportation falls into that category). Furthermore, the Supremacy Clause (ar. IV, §2) in the Constitution stipulates that when federal and state law are at odds, the federal government wins out. If the bills above became law and I were a judge deciding their legality, I would be forced to throw out both of them.
In addition to not making economic sense or providing better security, I maintain that the TSA’s full body scanners and groping searches are violations of the Fourth Amendment. That should be the avenue of attack against the TSA, not through state law restricting an agency that is tasked with providing for the common defense, a primary role of the federal government.