We've already covered the proposal in Texas to make TSA airport gropings illegal
, and we've already noted that the TSA insists that it can safely ignore such a law
(an argument that some dispute). However, now the Justice Department is apparently telling the Texas legislature that if it passes the law, flights out of Texas could be banned
If HR 1937 were enacted, 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.
That's a mighty big stick the feds are pulling out there. The sponsor of the bill says the whole thing is ridiculous. He notes (quite craftily) that the bill clearly exempts TSA officials from being liable for criminal prosecution under the bill, if they can show the Constitutional reasons that allow them to grope anyone's private parts:
"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," noted State Representative David Simpson (R-Longview), the bill's author.
"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?" asked Simpson.
"All that HB 1937 does is require that the TSA abide by the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution," Simpson continued. "We aren't even prohibiting the pat-downs, per se. We're just saying you can't go straight to third base. You have to have a reason-you have to have probable cause-before groping someone's sexual organs."
Things certainly could get interesting. In the meantime, perhaps don't plan too many trips that involve flying out of Texas in the near future.