J. D. Heyes
May 5, 2011
Well, it was bound to happen. Someone has finally gotten so tired of the X-rated pat-downs at airports they are trying to criminalize it.
Tired of waiting for the federal government to do the right thing and uphold Americans’ Fourth Amendment right to privacy and protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, Texas lawmakers are moving to make invasive pat-downs by Transportation Security Administration screeners a felony.
A bill moving through the state Legislature would make it illegal to intentionally touch a person’s private areas, even above clothing, unless the screener had probable cause the passenger was hiding something – and by that, it means something dangerous.
Rep. David Simpson, R-Austin, said the measure – HB 1937 – aims to restore some dignity to the act of traveling. A second proposal, HB 1938, seeks to prohibit the use of full-body scanners in Texas airports. A vast majority of Texas state lawmakers support the legislation.
It’s about time. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and the one true civil libertarian in Congress, is right: Enough is enough.
Few Americans doubt the need for increased security at airports, given the tragedy of 9/11. Most reasonable people understand the government’s interest in preventing similar attacks. But feeling up 6-year-old girls? Molesting a former Miss America? And what about the TSA agent in Philly who was recently arrested on charges he was in possession of child pornography? That’s not even the first time that’s happened.
Is this what counterterrorism has come to in America? Let’s hope not.
The Texas legislation may just be the beginning. There is a backlash growing against the overly invasiveness of the TSA’s pat-down procedures. Both pilots – who are also subject to such searches – as well as passengers, in growing numbers, have had enough. Even airports are opting out of using the TSA for airport “security.”
The legislation in Texas may not hold up to a constitutional challenge from the U.S. Justice Department, which is sure to come if state lawmakers pass it and Gov. Rick Perry signs it into law. But the point is clear: People have had enough, and it’s time for the government to listen.
There are better ways to provide airport security other than violating the constitutional rights of young passengers, beauty queens and everyone else in between.
This article was posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 3:00 am