Texas TSA Bill - Federal Bullying Stops Senate Despite Overwhelming Public Support

(Austin) – Despite overwhelming support from the public for HB 1937, a bill to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of Texas citizens, the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) succeeded in intimidating the Texas Senate into submission with a threatening letter full of misleading statements. The bill was brought up again for discussion by its Senate sponsor Dan Patrick (R-Houston) late Wednesday night, but after the DOJ’s bullying tactics several Senators were unwilling to sign back on to the bill. Rep. David Simpson’s (R-Longview) office is currently exploring other avenues for passing the law. The Governor’s office as well as a Senate office confirmed that multiple thousands of both emails and phone calls arrived Wednesday and Thursday in support of HB 1937, as it was being reconsidered by the Senate. The Lt. Governor’s office would not release the number of contacts they had received, citing privacy considerations, but they did redirect callers to a comment hotline to handle the influx of calls regarding the TSA and other issues. "Despite about a dozen Senators falling for the DOJ's bluff, Sen. Patrick and I were encouraged by the incredible outpouring of support for the protection of dignity and freedom by concerned citizens," said Simpson, the bill’s author. "Individual Texans from across the entire state made their voice clearly heard. Unfortunately, the federal government's bullying tactics drowned out the voice of the people."

The DOJ delivered an ultimatum to the Texas Legislature on Tuesday: Allow the TSA to keep touching the privates of innocent women, children, and men or they’ll shut down flights in Texas. Some Senators wavered and the bill lost more than one-third of its support in the Senate after having been passed unanimously on all four previous legislative votes— the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, second and third reading in the House, and the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee.

The DOJ attempted to justify their action by an appeal to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution and by claiming that the bill "would conflict directly with federal law." However, HB 1937 already grants a defense to prosecution for an offense that the actor performed pursuant to and consistent with an explicit and applicable grant of federal authority that is consistent with the United States Constitution.

"I will continue to work with colleagues in the newly formed organization United States for Travel Freedom, led by Rep. Cissna in Alaska and Sen. Stevens in Washington State, to promote legislation that will protect our citizens' dignity and constitutional rights from an overreaching federal government," Simpson said today.

HB 1937 would prohibit the TSA or other public officials from using invasive pat-down procedures as a condition of travel that includes touching the private areas of a traveler unless probable cause can be demonstrated that someone has committed an offense. It is intended to ensure that security officials abide by the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution and Article 1 Section 9 of the Texas Constitution.

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