Lawmakers in Texas have passed an "anti-groping" bill that would make invasive airport security pat-downs a crime. Gov. Rick Perry revived the bill — one of the potential GOP presidential candidate's top conservative priorities — in a special legislative session, but before it passed, it was watered down with amendments defending security officials from prosecution if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that a search is necessary. Still, can Texas force the Transportation Security Administration to change its ways?
Yes. Maybe now the TSA won't mess with Texas: This anti-groping bill isn't perfect, says Bob Price at Texas GOP Vote. But it was necessary to "draw a line in the sand." The state Legislature has now put the TSA on notice that it has to stop violating "Texans' right to travel without being molested and unreasonably searched."
"TSA groping bill in the hands of the House — this bill must pass!"
But the amendments make the bill toothless: This bill started out as a game-changer, says Charles F. Gisel at Conservative News Reports. Unfortunately, the watered down anti-groping bill "gives Transportation Security Administration agents carte blanche to continue groping travelers at Texas airports based on reasonable suspicion." What a disappointment.
"Texas Legislature blinks"
Texas is playing with fire: This shouldn't make the TSA's job harder, because under the Constitution, federal law trumps the states', says Paul Burka at Texas Monthly. But threatening to charge agents with a misdemeanor — punishable with up to a year in jail — may encourage the federal government to simply shut down the state's airports. If that happens, we can blame conservatives for "whipping up an anti-federal government frenzy" to get this "patently unconstitutional anti-groping bill" passed.
"The TSA 'anti-groping' bill"
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