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Texas House Passes Bill Banning TSA “Grope” Searches

Texas may well become the first state to take legislative action against the intrusive airport searches that have been in the news since November:

The Texas House of Representatives late on Thursday approved a bill that would make invasive pat-downs at Texas airports a crime, after a former Miss USA said she felt “molested” at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport last month.

Transportation Security Administration agents could be charged with a misdemeanor crime, face a $4,000 fine and one year in jail under the measure.

The proposal would classify any airport inspection that “touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing, or touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person” as an offense of sexual harassment under official oppression.

The measure’s author, Republican David Simpson, said: “Indecent groping searches when innocent travelers are seeking access to airports and public buildings would be outlawed under this bill.”

The bill needs a final vote from the House before it would go to the Senate.

“This has to do with dignity in travel,” Simpson said.

TSA spokesman Luis Casanova said he could not comment on pending legislation. He said just 3 percent of the traveling public is subjected to pat-downs.

If it becomes law, this would most certainly become the subject of a court challenge since it seems to directly interfere in the jobs of Federal Government employees. Instead of suing, though, it would be better if the TSA would recognize that they are doing something wrong here.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    Somebody needs to read the Supremacy Clause. But, yeah, having the power to do something and doing it being a good idea are not the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Southern Hoosier says:

    Texas is using the wrong approach, they should get rid of the TSA and replace it with private security.

    Byron York has good news for people around the country. Your local airport can opt out of having the Transportation Safety Administration handle security at your local airport. Instead, you can contract out to the private sector. It was one of the ingenious and little noticed provisions the Republicans dropped in the post-9/11 legislation creating the TSA.

    http://goo.gl/FnzZz

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  3. [...] Outside the Beltway [...]

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  4. Trumwill says:

    Hoosier, I don’t think that’s an option anymore:

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/01/29/tsa.private/index.html?hpt=T2

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Bruce Cunningham says:

    Instead of suing, though, it would be better if the TSA would recognize that they are doing something wrong here.. Huh?? thats exactly the point of the legislation the feds will never admit they are wrong

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  6. Jay Tea says:

    I suspect the backers of this law know it won’t survive a court challenge. I see two possible motives:

    1) Force the TSA to defend their practices in court, hoping to shame them into straightening out.

    2) This is the version of why the farmer whacked the mule with the 2×4 — “first you gotta get his attention.”

    The beauty is, these aren’t mutually exclusive…

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Southern Hoosier says:

    Trumwill says:
    Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 18:15

    Hoosier, I don’t think that’s an option anymore:

    I see what you mean. However if they fail to accept private contractors, they may be in violation of the law as it is written.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. anjin-san says:

    I keep thinking back to the aftermath of the failed Christmas bombing when the battle cry from the right was “Oh God, please don’t let them hurt me, we don’t care how you do it…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Jay Tea says:

    Funny, anjin, I just reviewed a couple of right-wing blogs (mine included) and the attitude was “WTF? Why do we have all this security, if it’s not going to work?” It turns out there were plenty of warning signs about the underwear bomber, including his own father saying “he’s up to no good,” and they were all ignored. But Granny and Baby Suzy were still getting their full pat-downs, so all was well with the world.

    The utter failure of the TSA was even more astonishing because they’d just won the right to unionize, and liberals swore up and down that that would make them even more efficient…

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  10. tom p says:

    Texas may well become the first state to take legislative action against the intrusive airport searches that have been in the news since November:

    But I’ll bet dollars to donuts they are still OK with intrusive warrentless wiretaps….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. [...] by Outside the Beltway: [...]

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  12. [...] scanners and stalled in the Texas House of Representatives, but the anti-groping bill passed the House unanimously, was approved unanimously by a Senate committee and was expected to pass with strong support in the [...]

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  13. [...] noted last week that the Texas Legislature was considering a bill that would have made the Transportation Security Administration’s intrusive body searches [...]

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