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Unconstitutional TSA Bill Could Shut Down Texas’ Airports

Unconstitutional TSA Bill Could Shut Down Texas’ Airports

The Texas state legislature is considering an awesomely unconstitutional bill which would empower state law enforcement to arrest TSA security screeners and jail them for up to a full year. While the bill has no chance of surviving constitutional scrutiny, the Department of Justice warned Texas’ lawmakers today that it could force the TSA to shut down flights into Texas airports:

This office, as well as the Southern, Northern, and Eastern District of Texas United States Attorneys, would like to advise you of the significant legal and practical problems that will be created if the bill becomes law. As you are no doubt aware, the bill makes it a crime for a federal transportation official (“TSO”) to perform the security screening that he or she is authorized and required by federal law to perform….  The practical import of the bill is that it would threaten criminal prosecution of Transportation Security Administration personnel who carry out the security procedures required under federal statutes and TSA regulations passed to implement those statutes. Those officials cannot be put to the choice of risking criminal prosecution or carrying out their federal duties. Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, Texas has no authority to regulate federal agents and employees in the performance of their federal duties or to pass a statute that conflicts with federal law.

If HR [sic] 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.

There is no question that the U.S. Attorneys are correct here. Indeed, the Supreme Court established as early as 1819 that state laws never have the power to “destroy” something that federal law has created — such as TSA baggage screenings.

Moreover, Texas’ anti-TSA bill is part of a pattern of right-wing state bills that may inadvertently undermine the state’s ability to function. Just as the TSA may need to shut down Texas flights to prevent federal baggage screeners from being harassed by unconstitutional arrests, the Idaho legislature recently passed an unconstitutional bill that would have opted the state out of Medicaid — costing the state approximately two-fifths of its budget. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R) vetoed the bill, but he issued an executive order which also may cause the state to lose all of its federal Medicaid funds.

As it turns out, there are very serious consequences when conservative lawmakers thumb their nose at the Constitution. The Texas legislature would do well to learn that lesson.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.

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Photo from Mike Atherton via flickr
written by Ian Millhiser, a ThinkProgress blogger

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94 comments

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6:46AM PST on Jan 23, 2013

Thank you Lindsay, for Sharing this!

3:26PM PST on Dec 25, 2011

Has anyone thought of how the TSA was able to be conceived of, the bill written to create it and it created as fast as it was???? The answer is very simple. Then President Bush knew of the 9/11 attacks long before they actually happened and did not do anything to interfere with their occurrance because the people in power at the time wanted them to happen for a few reasons. First and foremost President Bush wanted to go to war in the middle east just as his father did. Why??? MONEY. Next, he wanted to be able to help his friends that owned the companies that became the contracters that did much of the dirty work over there to be able to make HUNDREDS OD BILLIONS OF $$$$$. He also had much of the work for the creation of the TSA done before 9/11 happened. He knew what was to occurr and he and his cronies devised the plan to strip us of many of our constitutional rights with the legislation that was passed as a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11. For the American People 9/11 was a shock, but for President Bush and the CIA, it was no surprise. That was obvious when you saw the presidents reaction to what was happening as broadcast on national TV. When I first saw his reaction I knew something was not right with the way he reacted, but it was over a year and a LOT of reading before I realized why he reacted the way that he did. His reaction was the way a person reacts that knew what happened, but was trying to act surprised and shocked. What I have just stated here is backed up by all of

5:49AM PST on Dec 25, 2011

TSA has regularly violated passengers Constitutional rights and many ages have outright molested passengers. Someone needs to reign in abusive TSA agents. The threat that they will "shut down the airport" if an abusive TSA agent is arrested is just proof that TSA is not about protecting us but about protecting their power.

This author is woefully uneducated on this matter.

1:48AM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

Good!! Shut down all the airports!!! Then the airport companies will pay off the politicians to get rid of the TSA!! Or else, go bankrupt!!! Too bad all states don't have the "stones" Texas has!!!

6:30AM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

Gosh, Lindsay. Have you considered actually reading the Constitution, then thinking for a moment, instead of simply spouting your uninformed opinion? The TSA has been illegally granted authority to violate our constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy, and to use harmful equipment and physical violation in the process. Everyone knows the proposed Texas law will never get passed, but most of us recognize that it's a statement of protest against the police state practices being perpetrated against US citizens (and others) as part of the fear-mongering-for-power-and-profit strategy of the corporatocracy that has pretty much taken control of our government- and us. Ponder this for just a moment and then consider writing a more enlightened follow-up article that reflects a more enlightened view of reality. Good luck to you.

3:59AM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

Unconstitutional law? This baised reporter needs to study our original constitution and compare it to the adulterated version written by ou current defacto govlt. What heshe will find is that since the banksters took over this x-try in 1913 everything our congress has passed is unconstitutional!!! Texas is right on track with reality, Americans rights are being exploited every day and all the other ststes sit back and let it continue. All states need to ban together and stop the reign of terror that's been aflicted upon us by our own Defacto gov't!! Americans wake up, donlt you see who the real terrorists are? They certainly aren't in Texas or the Middle East! Thy get paid by lobbist to pass laws that benefit not the American people, but the.corporations that have an agenda of their own! That's called treason and the members of congress and the president and all his cabinent Are all guilty. Need we search any further for the real terrorists?

9:42PM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

Interesting. I hope to hear more about this.

8:00AM PDT on May 31, 2011

Fourth Amendment > Supremacy Clause
The Bill of Rights was added to ensure protection of the citizenry from government by misuse of all preceding material. Texas is, and I really have an issue saying this, so this is a BIG moment, right on this one.

5:30PM PDT on May 30, 2011

unconstitutional? I thought this anti TSA bill was about protecting people rights and the constitution, this reporter seems awfully biased and main stream for an alternative media site.

8:46PM PDT on May 29, 2011

Go for it Texas. The TSA is in violation of the fourth amendment to the bill of rights every time the feel somebody up. These clowns aren't looking for real terrorist, they are simply abusing the power they have been afforded. You get nuked or you get your junk fondled. Is this a great country or what?

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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