Texas Bill Would Ban Invasive TSA Pat Downs
A new bill introduced today by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longwood) would criminalize invasive TSA pat downs in Texas and put the Lone Star State on course for another collision with the feds who last year torpedoed similar legislation after threatening to impose a federal air blockade.
The Texas Travel Freedom Act, House Bill 80, would ban the very procedure that has caused rancor across the country, namely any pat down that, “touches the anus, breast, buttocks, or sexual organ of the other person, including touching through clothing.”
The bill would also make it an offense for a TSA screener, or indeed any federal employee, to remove, “A child younger than 18 years of age from the physical custody or control of a parent or guardian of the child or a person standing in the stead of a parent or guardian of the child.”
This would put an end to the TSA’s penchant for separating children from their parents when conducting invasive pat downs on minors.
The bill would also punish any federal employee who, “harasses, delays, coerces, threatens, intimidates, or effectively denies or conditions access to the other person because of the other person’s refusal to consent to” the invasive pat down.
“If you walk up to somebody and grab their crotch out on the street, it will land you in jail. Blue uniforms and federal badges don’t grant some goon the power to sexually assault you, or at least they shouldn’t. A person doesn’t forfeit her or his personal dignity with the purchase of an airline ticket,” commented the Tenth Amendment Center’s Mike Maharrey in response to the bill.
The bill’s reintroduction now sets the stage for a repeat of last year’s battle between Texas the federal government which eventually saw the feds resort to egregious threats of imposing a blockade over the state in order to sink the legislation.
The TSA and the Department of Justice resorted to financial terrorism by threatening a federal blockade that would have closed down Texas airports if the Texas Senate had followed the House in unanimously passing a bill that would have made TSA groping in the state a felony. The threats prompted protesters, led by Alex Jones, to peaceably storm the Capitol in Austin.
In a letter sent to Texas lawmakers, including to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Speaker Joe Straus, the House Clerk, and the Senate Secretary, U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy threatened to cripple the airline industry in the state if legislators did not back down.
“If HR [sic] 1937 were enacted, the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute,” Murphy wrote. “Unless or until such a stay were granted, TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew.”
Rep. Simpson introduced the new version of the bill with a message that it was the state’s responsibility to protect the rights of the people when the feds had abused their power.
“Abel Upshur’s words are pertinent to our cause. ‘It is indispensably necessary to maintain the States in their proper position. If their people suffer them to sink into the insignificance of mere municipal corporations, it will be in vain to invoke their protection against the gigantic power of the Federal Government,’” he said.
We join the Tenth Amendment Center in encouraging people in Texas to contact their representatives and urge them to support the bill by clicking here. We also support the effort to introduce model legislation that would replicate the travel freedom bill across the entire country by clicking here.