As some of you know, my family recently made the move from California to Texas. There were several compelling reasons. Some were economic, some were political and some were personal. So it seems timely that the following story which unfolded this week poignantly illustrates why I’ve chosen the Lone Star State as my new home. Read on.
Texas State Rep. David Simpson introduced House Bill 1937 which makes it a crime whenever any government employee –
“Intentionally subjects another person to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that the actor [he] knows is unlawful;
intentionally denies or impedes another person in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing the actor’s [his] conduct is unlawful; or
intentionally subjects another person to sexual harassment;
while acting under color of the person’s office or employment without probable cause to believe the other person committed an offense:
performs a search for the purpose of granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation; and
intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing; or
touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.”
Although the bill is meant to define boundaries of conduct for any government employee, this proposed legislation clearly was aimed at those working for the Transportation Security Administration. It was Texas’s response to increasingly unreasonable methods of civilian search being forced upon the public as the only alternative to a full-body radiation scan. And Texas’s response seems appropriate since TSA’s new “groping” mandate has been generating rather controversial headlines this year, including
- The groping of former Miss USA Susie Castillo, who was so upset and humiliated after the experience that she was seen crying on video.
- The groping of a six year old girl.
- The pat down of an eight-month-old infant as she lay cradled in her mother’s the arms.
So the Texas Legislature said enough is enough. H.B. 1937 passed the House unanimously 138-0. Unfortunately, it was on its way to an anticipated unanimous vote in the Senate when the TSA descended upon the Texas statehouse Tuesday. By the time the Feds were done threatening Texas’s congressional leaders, both verbally and in writing, Senate sponsor Dan Patrick withdrew the bill. Why? Because bureaucrats working for Obama’s executive branch warned that they would shut down every airport in Texas if the bill was not stopped dead in its tracks. In essence, they would create a no-fly zone across the great state. And in order to generate an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, the Feds waited until the 11th hour to flex their muscle. No time for debate, deliberation or even legal counsel.
I won’t bore you with all the details regarding the drama of outrage expressed, both by the Texas State Legislature as well as the citizens of Texas themselves who held a vigil of their own Wednesday in Austin protesting the federal government’s blunt usurping a Texan sovereignty. But I would like to suggest that this fiasco is ratcheting up resentment in the heartland as states increasingly express their contempt for an administration bent on ignoring the Constitution and rule of law. Look no further than healthcare, immigration and now even your right to move freely about the country.
Of course, there are two sides to every story. If you’re a fan of Obama, then you probably subscribe to the argument that states HB 1937 violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article. VI. Clause 2). It is a clause which says that federal law prevails when it conflicts with either the state constitution or state law. Specifically:
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”
TSA interprets this, in their words, as preventing “states from regulating the federal government.”
But if you’re a constitutionalist instead of a bureaucrat, then you probably also know that the Supremacy Clause only applies if the federal government is acting within the boundary of its constitutionally authorized powers. So this begs the question; where in the United States Constitution does it grant federal bureaucrats the power to implement policies and operational procedures that violate the sanctity of and respect for the human body?
Taking the argument one step further, you can also reference the fourth amendment:
” The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Personally, I believe that the federal government stepped way over the line in interpreting the Supremacy Clause to mean that unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats have unlimited power to trample states rights. I also think TSA strong-arm tactics of descending upon the Texas State Capital in order to stop legislation from moving forward under threat of force is an egregious abuse of their authority.
But getting past all that, perhaps there is a bigger picture. In this instance, TSA’s muscle flexing has little to do with passenger safety or airport security or stopping terrorists, unless of course, the terrorist profile fits Miss America. Rather, it’s a test to see just how far the federal government can push aside state sovereignty while ignoring constitutional law. It’s a test to see how much fear can be instilled upon the psyche of Americans outside the Beltway. We are rapidly becoming a police state under this administration, for that’s the mentality of this administration. It’s a mentality which firmly believes that the intellectual elites know what’s best for the rest of us and have every right to implement their will by force, fear and intimidation, without regard for opposing opinion or constitutional limits on government authority.
After all, if the TSA is not permitted to grope airline passengers, then the only reasonable thing to do is shut down every airport in Texas. Right?