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Patrick wasn’t buying it. After admitting legislators changing their minds “happens sometimes,” he reiterated that he had far more votes than the 21 necessary to pass the legislation. “It sometimes happens when you have 21, but not when you have ,” Patrick said, adding that Dewhurst should have “just told me” and not bothered to bring the bill up at all.
Speaking with Capitol Press Corps members on the Senate floor, Patrick said it wasn’t just the threatening letter which swayed Dewhurst. “Two TSA people” contacted the senator earlier in the day, he revealed. “They told me if we pass this bill, this could close down all the airports in Texas,” he said, also criticizing their last minute efforts to kill the legislation. “They’ve had this entire session to speak out on this issue, and we haven’t heard from the federal government,” he added. Texas newspaper the Star-Telegram disputed that account, saying the TSA had “actively campaigned against the measure for weeks.”
House sponsor Simpson noted in a press release on Thursday that “94 House members from both parties coauthored the bill, and the Senate has registered both a Republican and a Democrat as sponsors.” Simpson went on to dispute the federal government’s contention that the law, if enacted, would have violated the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, which posits that federal law supersedes state law if there is a conflict between the two. Simpson disputed that finding. “The bill clearly states that an agent is exempt from prosecution as long as a constitutionally sanctioned federal law directs them to perform the invasive, indecent groping searches-including touching breasts, sexual organs and buttocks,” he said. He then honed in on the heart of the dispute. “Instead of threatening to shut down flights in Texas, why doesn’t the TSA just show us their statutory authority to grope or ogle our private parts?” he asked.
That sentiment was echoed by Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center who contends the TSA is “lying” with regard to the Supremacy Clause, noting that while federal law does trump state law when the two are in conflict, federal law must be “in pursuance of” the Constitution in order to be valid. Boldin further cites the Virginia Resolution of 1798, in which the states, when faced with “palpable and alarming infractions of the Constitution” by the federal government “are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”
Regarding the over-reach of the TSA, Texas is not alone. On April 12, 2011, the Alaska state legislature sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs requesting an oversight hearing in Alaska on the “TSA’s current practice of conducting pat-down searches and other security procedures on airline passengers.” The letter was engendered by Rep. Sharon Cissna’s (D-Anchorage) personal experience with the TSA. Cissna, a breast cancer survivor, objected to what she believed to be an overly invasive search when TSA screeners in Seattle insisted on examining the area where an electronic body scan revealed her mastectomy scars. Cissna refused and took a boat to Juneau instead.
One suspects that, if more of the political class were subjected to these procedures — and to a significant extent they are not — such people might be inclined to reconsider TSA security procedures. Especially if they were forced to watch those procedures inflicted on their children, just as they were other people’s children here, here, and here.
As for the Lone Star state, the motto “don’t mess with Texas” rings a bit hollow right now. Just as hollow as U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy’s threat to cancel thousands of flights grounding hundreds of thousands of passengers, which would undoubtedly spawn numerous lawsuits from airline companies and anyone else affected. The Texas legislature ends its current session on May 30th. As of now they have no intention of revisiting HB 1937. In the age of Obama, federal thuggery has never been so easy.
Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.
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