Showdown Today on Texas Law to Throw TSA Employees in Jail
Today is the last day of the Texas House's special session, which means it's the last chance for Texas lawmakers to pass their TSA anti-groping bill. The bill, which would make conducting enhanced pat-downs a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine, was first passed by the House, then modified and passed by the Senate, and is now back in the House for a final vote. As of publication time there's still no news on whether the vote is yay, nay, or nothing.
Will Texas lawmakers hold a vote in time? Which version of the bill will pass? What will the Texas public think? Who cares. This law is moronic. It won't pass in any recognizable form. If it passes in any form at all it will be struck down by the courts. If it isn't struck down by the courts TSA will pressure Texas until the law is repealed. This is our third post on the topic, and frankly we're starting to resent Texas just a little bit for continuing with this charade.
On the first issuewhether the legislation will pass in its original hardline formthe law has already been watered down. The House language would have mandated that TSA agents have "probable cause" to conduct pat-downs. The Senate bill only requires "reasonable suspicion," which advocates of the law correctly point out "allows agents to justify almost any search." Strike one.
One the second issuewhether the legislation will hold up in the courtyou can read our backgrounder on the relationship between federal supremacy and federal agency rulemaking here. Or you could not and just take our word for it. Federal laws trump state laws, and agencies like TSA get to set regulations that have the force of law. Strike two.
And if somehow a strong version of the law passes and it survives the courts, TSA will simply block all domestic flights out of Texas until the law is changed. Which it will be. Strike three.
Keeping the electricity on for these "debates" in the Texas House is a waste of taxpayer money.
[Photo: Transportation Security Administration / Wiki Commons]