Texas to TSA: “No Warrant, No Grope!”

Texas could become the first State to pass a bill criminalizing invasive pat-downs by agents of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Near the end of the regular session HB 1937 passed the State House unanimously yet stalled in the State Senate after the Department of Justice (DOJ) threatened to ground all flights out of Texas. Some supporters of the bill are saying the federal government would essentially be creating a “no fly zone” over Texas. Similar legislation was introduced in New Hampshire, though that bill has been stalled in committee.

Currently, Texas Governor Rick Perry stands in the way of “round 2” for this bill. The Texas Legislature has been called into a “special session” and only the Governor can add bills to the “call” for the Legislature to consider during the special session. The special session was called, primarily, because the Legislature failed to pass a budget. They also failed to pass a Congressional redistricting plan; something that must be done since Texas gained four members of the US House.

Bill sponsor Rep. David Simpson told ABC News, “The attorney general’s letter claims we are stopping all searches. The bill just says you can’t touch privates without probable cause.” HB1937 would criminalize “as part of a search performed to grant access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly: searches another person without probable cause to believe the person committed an offense; and 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.”

Opponents of this bill claim that such invasive searches are “needed” to protect the airlines. However, in August 2009 during an episode of 60 Minutes CBS reported,

[T]he question is: ‘is everything we go through at checkpoints actually making us safer?’ Security expert Bruce Schneier says no. He says much of it is just ‘security theater.’ ‘It’s a phrase I coined for security measures that look good, but don’t actually do anything,’ he explained.

Schneier, who has been an adviser to TSA but also its most persistent thorn-in-the-side, says there are too many silly rules.

As for the latest tools of the TSA (backscatter X-ray machines and invasive groping) Sheier says, “it’s politics. You have to be seen as doing something, even if nothing is the smart thing to do. You can’t be seen as doing nothing… It won’t catch anybody.”

Other supporters of the TSA will say “you don’t have a right to fly.” The right to travel is a fundamental right, as is the right to not be subjected to invasive groping. The Articles of Confederation recognized the right to travel, “the people of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other State.” Even the UN recognizes that “everyone has the right to freedom of movement.” Not to mention, the US Supreme Court has recognized the right to travel. In U.S. v Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (1966), the Court noted, “It is a right that has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized.” In fact, in Shapiro v Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969), Justice Stewart noted in a concurring opinion that “it is a right broadly assertable against private interference as well as governmental action. Like the right of association, … it is a virtually unconditional personal right, guaranteed by the Constitution to us all.”

Since the TSA is “security theater” and individuals have a right to travel and a right to not be subjected to invasive searched without a warrant and probable cause; it should be clear that any government agent should be held accountable for their actions, when such actions violate common rights!

6 Comments
  1. One thing I want to point out over and over and over until it sinks in is that the no-fly zone over Texas was a complete and utter bluff and TX citizens are rightfully pissed at their legislators for blinking on that one.

    People should understand that there is absolutely no way in hell the feds would have suspended air traffic to the 2nd largest US state (size and population), the economic nightmare that would have unfolded from such a bone-headed move (even for a couple days) would have sealed Obama’s fate as a one-term president.

      1. Yeah long time :)

        It’s apparent that there are too many people in government using the constitution as toilet paper, but the tide has been shifting in the opposite direction thanks to the Internet.

        Don’t be a stranger, stop by any time :D