Some of my close associates at Vision Forum have been actively involved in a battle to pass legislation to curtail TSA abuse at airports in Texas.
Yesterday, the unthinkable happened. Agents of the Federal Government descended on the Capitol in Austin to threaten the people of Texas. Their threat: Enact H.B. 1937 — a bill to forbid TSA agents from touching travelers’ private parts without probable cause — and Washington will close down flights to and from Texas airports.
Read Wesley Strackbein’s Open Letter to Gov. Rick Perry here.
Here also are attorney Don Hart’s thoughts on what has transpired:
Texas Senate Bill 1937 unanimously passed the House and had commitments of support from 30 of 31 Texas Senators late last night.
The bill makes it a crime for a TSA agent to touch the private parts of any Texan seeking to engage in air travel or enter a public building absent a showing that such a personal invasion is constitutional.
Less than an hour before the bill came before the house for a vote, the Department of Justice wrote to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, members of the Senate and other leaders threatening, among other things, to in all likelihood shut down all air travel through Texas if the bill passed.
In apparent confusion and panic, Senators’ commitments to support the bill were pulled down and the bill was withdrawn.
While the bill provides an “out” from criminal prosecution if the TSA can show that its warrantless actions absent probable cause are constitutional, the DOJ letter erroneously claims the law violates the Supremacy Clause. While the Supremacy Clause protects actions of the Federal Government which are constitutional, it does not make everything the Federal Government does constitutional. There is quite a difference, and this bill would require TSA to show that their actions are lawful under the constitution.
Texas leaders are meeting today to consider their positions.
The author of the bill and its sponsor in the Texas House, posted the following on his blog this morning:
In a time when the country is desperate for principled leadership, Rep. David Simpson is a breath of fresh air, to say the least.
Texans who care about standing for the rights of Texans and responding courageously to unconstitutional threats and intimidation tactics need to strongly consider calling their Governor, Lieutenant Governor and State Senators to encourage them to do just that.
It will indeed be a sad day for Texas if her Senate, Governor and Lieutenant Governor abandon the best interests of her citizens and scatter like quail in the face of an erroneously reasoned letter from a Department of Justice lawyer — especially on a bill which has passed the house unanimously and had the support of 30 of 31 Senators before the arrival of such a letter.
I certainly hope our leaders have more resolve to stand for what they considered in the best interest of Texans and were prepared to support mere minutes before a shot was fired across their bow.
For those interested, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst contact information is:
He blogged earlier this month about standing for Texas and the 10th Amendment: