Texas Legislation Proposes Felony Charges for TSA Agents

By Tenth Amendment Center

Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) introduced a package of bills into the Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday that would challenge the TSA’s authority in a number of ways. The first bill, HB 1938, prohibits full body scanning equipment in any Texas airport and provides for criminal and civil penalties on any airport operator who installs the equipment. The second bill, HB 1937, criminalizes touching without consent and searches without probable cause.

HB 1938 reads in part:

(b) An airport operator may not allow body imaging scanning equipment to be installed or operated in any airport in this state.

(c) An airport operator commits an offense if the operator fails to comply with Subsection (b).

(d) An airport operator who commits an offense under Subsection (c) is subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for each day of the violation.

HB 1937 includes the following:

(3) as part of a search performed to grant access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

(A) searches another person without probable cause to believe the person committed an offense; and

(B) touches the anus, sexual organ, or breasts of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.

(f) …. An offense under Subsection (a)(3) is a state jail felony.

Both bills empower the Texas Attorney General to bring suit in court.

The TSA will likely challenge such a law, but the Texas legislature stands on solid ground. Local governments control airports and no enumerated power in the Constitution gives the federal government the authority to regulate them. Under the Tenth Amendment, airport operation falls under state jurisdiction.

TSA regulations allow for passengers to refuse the body scans, but they must instead submit to an intrusive full-body pat down. This package addresses both issues. The HB 1938 legislation addresses the physical installation of full-body scans, and HB 1937 addresses the problematic constitutional issues of TSA security screening procedures. Random full-body scans and pat downs in the absence of probable cause arguably violates the Fourth Amendment:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

Brian Roberts contributed to this report.

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In response to increased “security” measures forced upon people at airports around the country – naked body scanners, “enhanced pat downs,” and more, legislation is being proposed to protect the right of the people to be secure in “their persons, houses, papers, and effects.” Currently, four states have introduced such legislation.

Texas HB1938 – introduced 03-01-11 and HB1937 – introduced 03-01-11

Hawaii SB1150 – Introduced 01-24-11

New Hampshire HB628 – Introduced 01-06-11. In addition to criminal charges, those engaging in technological or physical patdowns involving genitals would face being labeled a “Tier III” sex offender and entered into the national registry. [News story]

New Jersey Suite of 3 bills introduced on 12-09-10:

S2509 – Bans body scan images
S2510 – Body Scans are 3rd degree sexual assault
S2511 – Bans body scanners

CLICK HERE – to track legislation rejecting TSA scanners, searches, etc.

3 responses to “Texas Legislation Proposes Felony Charges for TSA Agents

  1. FInally, someone is standing up to them…a great precedent for other states if it goes through!

  2. Write your state reps and demand they introduce the same. 4 out of 50 is not enough. State Sovereignty Hoo-rah!

  3. Pingback: Appeals Court to hear oral arguments in EPIC vs TSA over ‘unlawful, invasive, and ineffective’ searches | COTO Report

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