The States vs. the TSA

Contrary to their own warped beliefs, the TSA does not reign supreme over our rights.

The State of Texas recently tried to slap this reality back into the TSA by attempting to pass legislation that would ban “intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation.” After the measure sailed through the Texas House of Representatives with unanimous support, the TSA and the U.S. Department of Justice responded by arguing that “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.” Fearing that the anti-TSA bill could face similar popularity in the Texas Senate, the DOJ issued a threat that all flights in and out of Texas would be shut down; a threat that eventually coerced a cowardly Senate to abandon the measure altogether.

Conveniently taking refuge behind the very document they seek to destroy is a great irony that should not fool the American people. Citing the Constitution’s own Supremacy Clause and using it as justification to trample over the rights of the people and the authority of the States only deepens the federal government’s already fouled logic. The Supremacy Clause itself states that “this Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof…shall be the supreme law of the land.”

Obviously when the TSA violates an individual’s privacy, protected by the Fourth Amendment, by unlawfully conducting searches and seizures of a person and their property, it clearly falls outside constitutional boundaries and is therefore not the “supreme law of the land.” When a state such as Texas seeks to restrain the federal government by forcing it to operate within the limits of the Constitution, Dr. Thomas Woods, author of Nullification, notes that “a nullifying state maintains that a given law is not “in pursuance thereof” and therefore that the Supremacy Clause does not apply in the first place.”

Ultimately, it was Uncle Sam’s threats that won the day in Texas. But despite this brief setback, the issue is far from settled and has to be continued in other States. A lawmaker in Utah is already working on legislation that would have virtually the same effects as the failed Texas bill. If passed, it too would put an end TSA pat downs being conducted without reasonable suspicion or actual probable cause in that state. Several other states also have similar pending legislation.

When faced with an overbearing federal government, this is the course that must be pursued at the state and local levels. We need to press our state lawmakers to draft and support similar bills in every state without cowering at the first sign of federal intimidation. We need to make it clear to Washington, D.C. that our freedoms trump the TSA’s massive power trip and that the liberty protected under the Constitution must remain supreme to all federal tyranny.

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