View Full Version : TSA Threatens To Cancel All Flights Out Of Texas If 'Groping Bill' Passed...

05-25-2011, 03:05 PM
Upset about invasive screening techniques at the airport, the Lone Star State was considering a bill that would make a TSA patdown that involves touching “the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing” a misdemeanor, allowing Texas law enforcement to arrest TSA officials and charge them with sexual harassment. It would have meant that TSA officials could be fined $4,000 and spend up to a year in jail for doing their jobs of feeling up prospective fliers.

The Transportation Security Administration was not happy when the bill was passed in the Texas House of Representatives, blogging in response that Texas is barred by the U.S. Constitution from regulating the federal government.

On Tuesday, the bill was set to be voted on in the Senate. This called for more of a response than a simple blog post. Federal government officials descended on the Capitol to hand out a letter (embedded below) from the Texas U.S. Attorney letting senators know that if they passed the bill, the TSA would probably have to cancel all flights out of Texas. As much as they love their state, the idea of shutting down airports and trapping people in Texas was scary enough to get legislators to reconsider their support for the groping bill…


05-25-2011, 03:44 PM
DOJ letter:'TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight'(FEDs threaten air blockade of Texas)

The U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to House and Texas Senate leaders Tuesday -- reportedly in person -- threatening a shut-down of airports if HB 1937 is passed. The letter claims Rep. David Simpson's (R-Longview) anti-TSA-groping bill is against federal law and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. We include the text of the DOJ's letter, as well as a portion of Simpson's reply, below.
May 24, 2011
[On U.S. Department of Justice, Western District of Texas, stationery. Addressed to Speaker Joe Straus, Dewhurst, the House Clerk and the Senate Secretary]

Dear Leaders,

I write with regard to HB 1937, which I understand will imminently be presented to the Texas Senate for a vote.

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.

We urge that you consider the ramifications of this bill before casting your vote.
Very truly yours,
John E. Murphy
United States Attorney

Simpson included a point-for-point refutation of the TSA letter, which we will post once LSR receives an electronic copy. Below is a portion of the accompanying letter:

" 175 years ago in the first battle of the Texas Revolution against Mexico, a small band of Texans stood in defiance at Gonzalez [sic], turning back the attempt to deprive them of their weapon of defense, a single cannon.

Gentlemen, we find ourselves at such a watershed moment today. The federal government is attempting to deprive the citizens of Texas of their constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 9, of the Texas Constitution. If we do not stand up for our citizens in the face of this depravation of their personal rights and dignity, who will?

Time is critical. If the bill does not pass the Senate tonight [Tuesday], it may very well be dead until the next legislative session. Meanwhile, our wives, our children, our mothers and grandmothers, will be rudely violated by federal employees out of control."


05-25-2011, 03:48 PM
the TSA would probably have to cancel all flights out of Texas
Not if the airlines tell the TSA to piss up a rope. They can hire their own security, at least for domestic flights,,,right?
Of course, closing down the airport can backfire on the TSA as well.

Adam Wood
05-25-2011, 05:01 PM
Not if the airlines tell the TSA to piss up a rope. They can hire their own security, at least for domestic flights,,,right?
Of course, closing down the airport can backfire on the TSA as well.No, they cannot. Ever since the bill authorizing the TSA was passed and signed, it effectively took federal control over airline passenger screening. Before 9/11 and the TSA, airlines did hire their own security: each airline chipped in based upon their percentage of flights and/or passengers at any particular airport. So, for example, Delta was paying the lion's share for the security folks at Atlanta, while American footed the bill in Dallas, etc.

Now that has all been federalized. With the exception of a loophole allowing certain individual airports to opt out of the TSA and get their own security (which I believe has now been removed), there's no avoiding having TSA security for any scheduled airline flight.

What the airlines would have to do is switch all of their flights to what is called a "marketed charter service." That's a fancy way of saying that they put up a bond against their own plane and then sell seats on those flights through the general aviation area (private plane area) of each airport served. There's a great big catch in there, though: those chartered flights may not serve more than one city pair per 48 hours. So, American could fly one airplane from Chicago to New York on Tuesday, then they will have to wait until Thursday to fly another planeload of people from Chicago to New York. Needless to say, this would be utterly crippling for business travel in this country.

Now, Southwest may have an argument here. Theoretically, for their flights between Love Field and Hobby Airport, they could hypothetically say that they are not subject to TSA regulation because those are purely intra-state flights. But that doesn't do much for the rest of the country coming and going to and from Texas.