The great State of Texas has passed a law that makes it illegal for security screeners to touch people on certain parts of their bodies. This is in response to the invasion of privacy that takes place when TSA officers conduct enhanced pat downs of air travelers. The TSA has struck back in a posting at the TSA blog that lists its response to Texas as; you can’t do that because the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution says states can’t regulate the federal government.
That is very true but only in cases where the actions of the federal government are allowed by the Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the federal government is responsible for the traveling public. Let us assume though, that the federal government would be allowed to regulate our travel under the Commerce Clause (it is stretched for so many things that this is not out of the question). That still would not allow the federal government to claim supremacy when the act involves the violation of our Constitutional rights. The actions by the TSA are a violation of our Fourth Amendment right against search and seizure without probable cause and without a warrant.
No matter how supreme the federal government is, it cannot invoke supremacy on issues where it is violating the Constitution or where it has no Constitutional authority in the matter. The Tenth Amendment gives the states or the people the supremacy over any item NOT listed in the Constitution.
If the TSA wants to drag out the dusty, seldom used copy of the Constitution that the agency has then it must be willing to accept the limits placed on the federal government by that very document. The federal government has no enumerated power to search people as the TSA agents are doing. NONE, period.
It is obvious that the TSA thinks it, as part of the federal government, has supremacy in this issue but the reality is Texas has exerted its Tenth Amendment right to supremacy over an issue not Constitutionally enumerated to the federal government.
Let us also not forget that Texas did not pass a law that interferes with airline travel so even if one can claim supremacy under Commerce, the law in question does not involve that. The Texas law simply says that if a screener touches certain areas of people’s bodies without probable cause or a warrant then they have committed a crime.
Setting off an alarm in the metal detector is not probable cause to touch people in areas that would have one arrested if done on the street. Being a baby or a child is not probable cause to molest a child in hopes of finding a bomb. Refusing to go through the X-Ray machine is no more probable cause for an invasive search than is refusing to allow a police officer to search your vehicle during a traffic stop. If police officers started pulling people who refused searches out of their cars and subjected them to the pat down performed by the TSA then every civil rights group would be up in arms and the people would be rebelling against such invasion. However, the TSA does the same thing and then has the nerve to claim it can do so and has supremacy over the states that try to stop it.
I am not sure the TSA wants to open the can of worms involved in citing the Constitution to rebuke a state because that would lead to closer scrutiny involving the Constitutionality of what the TSA is doing, the role of the federal government in the process and the violation of our Fourth and Tenth Amendment rights.
For those who say it is moot because we do not have a right to travel, the federal government has codified travel as a right that will not be impeded (if one agrees that government can regulate travel under Commerce then this law has to be allowed as part of that regulation).
TSA impedes us unnecessarily in the name of security. Remember folks, no terrorist has been caught by the TSA and the TSA routinely fails screening tests where “harmful” items are sneaked through security.
Not to worry though, the TSA does ensure our genitals are in place prior to boarding a plane…
Where our genitals are is not the issue here. The issue is where the TSA is keeping its collective heads…
Never surrender, never submit.