A Federal No-Fly Zone Over Texas?

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


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Proving that the extortionist tendencies of the Obama administration aren’t limited to the NLRB’s suit against Boeing, the Department of Justice threatened the state of Texas with a complete suspension of air travel in and out of that state if its Senate approved HB 1937, a bill which would have banned “intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation.” The penalty for doing so would have been a $4,000 fine and one year in jail. Authored by Representative David Simpson (R-Longview), and passed in the House by a vote of 138-0, HB 1937 was the first bill in the country designed to derail the TSA’s intimate pat-downs absent the probable cause guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. As of now, the bill is dead.

letter signed by U.S. District Attorney for Western Texas, John E. Murphy, is the epitome of coercive innuendo. Sent to House Speaker Joe Straus, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and the House Clerk and the Senate Secretary, the letter warned these officials of the “significant legal and practical problems that will be created if the bill becomes law,” noting that “the intent of the bill is to preclude a [federal transportation official] from turning away from the secure area of an airport someone who otherwise would have been subjected to a pat down as a condition of entry.” Murphy then warned Texans that if the Senate chose to enact the bill, “the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute. 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.”

Senate sponsor Dan Patrick (R-Houston) was undeterred. Initially believing he had the votes to pass the bill, he pressed on, angrily noting that “I don’t cave in to heavy handed threats by the federal government.” Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst allowed the legislation to proceed to the floor of the Senate for debate. At that point, support wavered, and Patrick withdrew the bill.

One of the senators who withdrew his support was Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen), who had voted in favor of the bill in committee. Mr. Hinojosa said that while he agreed with Patrick on principle he couldn’t vote for a measure that supersedes federal law. “The bill makes it a crime for a [federal TSA employee]…to perform a federal screening that he or she is required by federal law to perform,” he said. Another dissenter, Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), concurred. “I would hate for 181 members of the legislature to think that they can override the concerns of the TSA officials. In fact, I know state law cannot override federal measures,” he said.

Yet Sen. Patrick blamed the failure on fellow Republican Dewhurst. “When you stand on the Senate floor and the president of the Senate calls the bill up, he’s not supposed to be working against the bill while you’re debating it,” Patrick fumed. “This was a case of the federal government bullying Texas, and apparently they bullied the lieutenant governor.” In a column for the Ne Tarrant Tea Party website, the Senator elaborated: “I had 30 of 31 Senators in support in the morning, but the Lt Gov waited until late in the afternoon for a letter from TSA that threatened Texas. He them (sic) called our bill up around 10 p.m. and while I was on the floor debating the bill he was working to kill the bill according to Senators who talked with me later. This is a time to stand up for our liberty and freedom and not be bullied by the feds. Apparently the Lt. Gov was bullied…[and] caved to the feds’ threats.”

Dewhurst spokesman Mike Walz disputed that assessment. “That’s completely inaccurate,” he said, noting that while Hinojosa was speaking, another senator, kirk Watson (D-Austin), approached the Lieutenant Governor with a list of 12 Senators who had changed their minds after becoming aware of the DOJ’s intentions to close airports or cancel flights. Walz said Dewhurst was still willing to bring the bill to the floor in spite of the letter, believing the senate would pass it regardless.

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  • Cyndy

    Let me see if I got this right…. a CIA operative can be prosecuted criminally and civilly for 'doing his job' with vigor to protect us all, but TSA agents cannot be held accountable for sexually molesting ordinary innocents who had the bad judgement to fly to Tulsa in time fora family funeral or job interview? I could be wrong here, but I think far more evil has been thwarted by waterboarding than by scoring first base with my 12 year old virgin granddaughter in public. We did NOTHING wrong, and yet we cannot fly without neccessitating the need for legal representation when a certified perv feels me or my grandchildren up. Since when is buying a plane ticket a crime which makes me and my companions terrorist suspects? Either Government employees are held accountable or they are not. You don't get to shuffle the deck everytime you don't like the cards! The rest of us out here REALLY counted on Texas to get the ball rolling. We have long looked up to the Texan mentality to stand up to the bullies and help us up to our feet so we could fight with them. I guess we were wrong. Too bad.

    • Paul

      I guess you can mess with Texas if you are the Obama DOJ

    • twinelm

      Yes, Cyndy, I am bitterly disappointed in my state, particularly Dewhurst. He can plead ignorance all he wants, but HE ORCHESTRATED THIS WITH THE FEDS. Believe me, we Texans WILL NOT FORGET this humiliation of kowtowing to bully tactics. That is NOT our character as a state…

    • Larry G

      TEXAS CAVES. THE AMERICAN COWBOY IS DEAD!

  • Richard_Iowa

    Go ahead – suspend all air travel in and out of Texas. See how that works out for ya. Amazing how far the government will go to ensure the right to molest the American public, especially children.

    • PhillipGaley

      I think that, they're bluffing.
      Quite simply, what if—after an adjustment period—Texas leapt forward like gangbusters? Then where would the child-molester types, be—how would they scrape the crap off their faces?

  • AlgerHiss

    Since when did the DOJ have any authority to shut down air traffic? Just because thay say they can doesn't mean it's true.

    Hell, what prevents the city council of Paducah, Kentucky from doing the same thing?

    • coyote3

      You have a point. Just because some agency of the federal government says something, doesn't make it so. I don't believe the DOJ has any jurisdiction, whatsoever, in this issue. What might be interesting is that if a number of other states enact similar laws regarding TSA. Even the FAA, wouldn't suspend air travel nationwide, and that is what they would have to do. We wouldn't need "all" of the states to do it, just enough that the "no fly" could not be isolated.

  • plebis

    More criminal threats from our dictator in waiting, the insufferable egoist Obama. This sort of thuggery is expected from a man who is America’s enemy. Those jug ears and grin conceal a hatred for America.

  • StephenD

    All of this is the result of us trying desperately to be Politically Correct and not wanting to offend certain people. I'm sorry but PROFILING WORKS! We should be emulating Israel’s processes. Their system works. But no, in order not to wrinkle anyone’s collar we search baby’s' diapers or granny’s undergarments because, after all, we are fair! What nonsense!

  • tagalog

    1. Doesn't the government's interest in a public easement interfering with private ownership of the airspace above one's land exist for the public benefit as a kind of public trust? If the U.S. Department of Justice mandates the U.S. Dept. Transportation to forbid air travel over Texas, isn't that a violation of the public trust? 2. What requirement exists for airlines landing in Texas to have to land at some given airport? If you can't disembark passengers at Dallas-Fort Worth, Love Field or whatever, what stops airplanes from landing in some other airport nearby?

    Screw the government when they pull stunts like this; they're just bluffing. We should call their bluff EVERY TIME!!!

  • WilliamJamesWard

    I refuse to fly while these intrusions to my privacy continue. Profiling is all that
    is necessary, doing it the way Israel does will end our problem for the most
    part. Our greatest problem is the Obama administration, until they are out
    of office America will continue to be a land of continual crises without any
    stop towards our ultimate failure as a Nation which is Obamas goal…………William

  • Angel

    What would happen if we tell this SOB's stuff it and brutally and with total abandomen we simply ignore the Federal Government?

    • http://FrontPageMag Jon Enigma

      I don’t know the answer but……. I’m looking forward to finding out. Vegas odds [545 to 1] are that we would be better off !

  • PhillipGaley

    But, the article's first sentence: "Proving that the extortionist tendencies of the Obama administration aren't limited to the NLRB’s suit against Boeing, . . .".

    In effect, the NLRB movement appertains to the kind of thing where—in speaking for Boeing—the company officer says what is tantamount by extrapolation: "Yeah, I'm moving out because, I just really don't like some things about marriage.", failing to have apprehended of the fact that, while, in one way or another, he might move away, in order not to suffer penalty for arbitrariness, unreasonableness, retaliation, and so on, things have to be stepwise, and in order; and simply because, marriage partners have special rights, and so do those parties who may be signatory to labor agreements, . . .

    • al1

      one fly in the ointment of your argument: Boeing has ADDED 2,000 union jobs in their WA shop since attempting to move part of their operations to SC. All bad marriages should have it so good.

      • jonhartz

        You actually understood what he said??

  • RJR

    How refreshing it would be to see a Texas Republican actually stand up for what they believe! No fly zone over Texas would be the end of Obama presidential 2012 dream.

    • Jason

      Excellent point. We've got a soviet style bully in the white house. Texas is the perfect state to give him the finger.

  • Dave

    If the federal government wants to be taken seriously; they need to consider the possibility of unintended consequences – TX certainly matters to them in 2012

  • Bobby

    Plain and simple way to get the TSA in line is to remind them that Texas refines most of their jet fuel…If we don't fly, they won't either. Enough said.

  • waterwillows

    it is sad to see the powers of the Oval Office in the hands of some third rate bully boys. They act like America is some kind of banana republic, complete with the reigning despot.
    Let's face it. The democrats simply are not up to snuff for the world stage.
    I suspect they have been way too long on the slippery slopes of delusion and deception. And too deep in the mire to understand they need correction.
    Nor will they listen.

  • Tomate

    There is more than one way to get the TSA to act with common sence… Perhaps the Texas approch is not the best way to go about it.

    I kind of like the idea of a state law requiring all TSA screeners to be virgins.

  • Rifleman

    It's my understanding the Israelis concentrate on finding terrorists, rather than weapons.

  • Mike Smitty

    These TSA agents have been known to search white toddlers and grannys with all the groping and an Arab standing in line is let through without even being touched. What is wrong with this picture-we need to stop being politically correct and start using good ol' common sense. All Arabs and any Palistinian needs to be well searched while those of us who are white and don't desire an end to our country or call it the great Satan, should be respected and treated like Americans who love our country but don't want to be treated like we are Satan.

  • Doug

    You are ignorant if you think Israelis stoop to groping infants and children to identify terrorist. They profile passengers and use intelligence gathering along with effective security measures at the airport.

    The Israelis laugh at our methods.

    • tanstaafl

      Doug, I'm saying the same thing you are. We are constantly being told that "everyone" must be searched because "it wouldn't be fair" to single out one group.

      I agree completely that the Israelis laugh at our methods.

  • jsl55

    How about having every man wear a dirty sheet as a robe and a rag on his head, and the women can wear face shielding veils? If they try to search you scream "religious freedom" and have a scumbag lawyer file a lawsuit.

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  • http://www.mydesignskylights.com/ austin

    Oh yeah, I remember this, it was fairly entertaining. It was interesting to see the republicans in Texas stand up for something worthwhile for once.