The No-fly Zone…In Texas?

Craig Covello

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;

or

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.”

Analysis

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?

 

Sources

http://www.wnyc.org/npr_articles/2011/may/25/texas-legislature-federal-government-clash-over-airport-pat-down-bill/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wnyc_home+%28WNYC+New+York+Public+Radio%29

http://www.lonestarreport.org/Home/tabid/38/EntryId/1178/Patrick-claims-Dewhurst-reason-for-anti-TSA-groping-bills-failure.aspx

http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/25/feds-threaten-no-fly-zone-over

http://www.prisonplanet.com/feds-threat-to-cancel-flights-in-texas-kills-anti-tsa-grope-down-bill.html

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/88607.html

http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/05/anti-tsa-protesters-storm-thro.html

http://www.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2011/05/24/feds-issue-threat-no-fly-zone-for-texas/

http://whatdoino-steve.blogspot.com/2011/05/us-attorney-threatens-to-shut-down.html

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6 Responses to The No-fly Zone…In Texas?

  1. Anonymous on May 27, 2011 at 7:55 am

    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” A Benjamin Franklin quote, or so some believe. And we moan about the intrusiveness of the TSA, yet demand to be protected. Security is intruding on Freedom, enhancing federal police power and eroding Liberty.

    “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.” When will we fight back?

    Have we forgotten Obama’s ‘civilian national security force’?

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?pageId=69601

    This issue was raised by the candidate Obama in a statement he made July 2, 2008 in Colorado Springs and never properly questioned.

    Joseph Farah opined “For several days now, WND (World Net daily) has been hounding Barack Obama’s campaign about a statement he made July 2 in Colorado Springs – a statement that blew my mind, one that has had me scratching my head ever since.”

    In talking about his plans to double the size of the Peace Corps and nearly quadruple the size of AmeriCorps and the size of the nation’s military services, he made this rather shocking (and chilling) pledge: “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

    “Who will Obama appoint to administer this new “civilian national security force”? Where will the money come from? Where in the Constitution does he see justification for the federal government creating such a domestic army?”

    Since when did the benefits of our unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness come without risks? And when we forgo the “risks” we are surrendering the “freedom” associated with those “rights.” Liberty is an unalienable right which carries the burden of stewardship. Security is a luxury, once tasted it becomes a nihilistic necessity, much like federal entitlements.

    When pondering, while analyzing the mission and goal of the TSA, one might reconsider that on July 15, 2008 Obama is reported to have also indicated a desire for a “unionized civilian national security force.” “Are we talking about creating a police state here? The U.S. Army alone has nearly 500,000 troops, non union. That doesn’t count reserves or National Guard, non union. In 2007, the U.S. Defense budget was $439 billion. Is Obama serious about creating some kind of domestic, “transparent” (about its real mission and goal) but out in the open, security force bigger and more expensive than that?” The answer is “Yes”. The answer is the TSA. A recent report indicates the TSA has hired some 110,000; many have quit or were fired.

    Where in the Constitution does Obama see justification for the federal government creating such a domestic army?” And there we have the TSA, an appeasement to terrorism or possibly a crisis too good to waste? As we give up infinitesimal pieces of that treasure called liberty, at what point do we lose the ability to reverse this march to…possibly slavery?

    Socialism will require an “enforcer”, the “TSA”. Is “The No Fly Zone….in Texas?” a liberty corroding precursor? Are we not forewarned?

    President Ronald Reagan opined that as government expands liberty contracts. Liberty lost is not recovered.

  2. Dave Burris on May 27, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I would like to see a little consistency in the arguments being made on this issue. It is a fact that our enemies will seize upon known weaknesses in our security apparatus. At first, it may seem unreasonable to search an elderly person in a wheelchair, or an infant, but it is entirely possible that our enemies may use unlikely persons as unwitting accomplices. As soon as we say we will never search an elderly person, or we will never pat down the normally “private” parts of a person’s body, we are giving our enemies a blank check to take advantage of those absolutes. We have not had a successful terrorist attack involving a commercial airplane in the US in 10 years. Let’s keep up the good work!

    • John Clark on May 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

      Dave,
      if you have a party and one of your guests spiked the punch would you then proceed to strip-search all the guests, and their children, at your next event? (For their own safety of course.) Or would you attempt to locate the offender and take them off the guest list? Translate that any way you want to.

      Strip-searching your guests may well allow you to have an un-spiked punch bowl for the next ten years but who the hell would want to go to your party anymore? Other than deviants. Keep up the good work at your own house.

  3. John Clark on May 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I, for one, do not think that everyone should lose recess because little johnny was chewing gum. As adults we are responsible for our own actions. If we are attacked then we should find the country/group that did it and destroy it and then add the territory and resources to our own pile. After that we can get back on the bus without having a government-authorized hand-job. It wouldn’t take long before the offenders would get the message.

  4. John Clark on May 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Censored websites = Crap websites.

  5. Dave Burris on May 29, 2011 at 6:03 am

    John – It is not a party at my house, or a party at your house, it is a party with 200 random strangers in a vehicle that flies 500 mph at 35,000 feet holding 10,000 gallons of explosive jet fuel. If you don’t want to submit to security protocols that make you uncomfortable, don’t fly. Don’t, however, endanger me and my family because you are uncomfortable. I recently had someone mistakenly grab my bag instead of theirs in the restroom at Reagan and make it all the way out of the airport, to his car, driving away, until I called his cell. It turned out to be a doctor. How hard do you think it would be for someone with an evil intent to use an elderly person or a baby unwittingly? This isn’t chewing gum, this is everyone dying, something that hasn’t happened to anyone in this country in 10 years. If you want to contribute to the debate with a better way of doing things, please go ahead, but just being against a security protocol with no alternative solution doesn’t seem reasonable to this frequent flyer.

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