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United States Government Transportation

DOJ Could Ban Texas Flights Over Anti-Patdown Law 377

Posted by timothy
from the don't-mess-with dept.
hellkyng writes "The Department of Justice may ban flights from Texas because of the Anti-Patdown law making its way through the legal system. Says Rep. David Simpson, 'Someone must make a stand against the atrocities of our government agents.' Should be interesting to see if Texas can pave the way for grope-free flying fun."
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DOJ Could Ban Texas Flights Over Anti-Patdown Law

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  • Update on this story (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Thursday May 26, 2011 @02:58PM (#36255114) Journal

    As of earlier today, the law's main sponsor, Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said the law is dead after support for the law collapsed.

    http://www.click2houston.com/news/28032459/detail.html [click2houston.com]

    • As of earlier today, the law's main sponsor, Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said the law is dead after support for the law collapsed.

      http://www.click2houston.com/news/28032459/detail.html [click2houston.com]

      Wow...this story became a non-story tout suite!

    • by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:04PM (#36255204) Homepage

      What do you mean collapsed? I think 99% of Americans would support this. Oh, you mean support by the few people that make decisions and can easily be bought.

      • by jdgeorge (18767)

        Have you read the law so you can reasonably speculate whether people would support it?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MooseTick (895855)

        you are mistaken. Most people believe the pat downs make them safer. I bet half would not approve if eliminating them. It doesn't matter if it is true or not, just the perception.

        • by dynamo (6127) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:16PM (#36255418) Journal

          It's not even the perception, sir, unless you happen to work at the TSA and are paid to pretend that you think what you do for a living makes any positive difference whatsoever.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:51PM (#36255944)

          I know. I literally have not flown anywhere since 9/11. I consider it a matter of principle to keep up with my little boycott. Whenever it is mentioned in my family, they say "oh, you don't like to fly". I say "no, I would love to fly, I just refuse to do all the stupid shit I have to do before I get on a plane". And their response is always to cock their heads like dogs learning a new word.

          It's been 10 years of this, and they still find it easier to think I'm a giant pussy who doesn't want to fly, rather than accept the idea that maybe all those security checks are completely pointless. If you've *had* to fly since 9/11, you've pretty must just accepted this and gone on with your life. But to someone who still tries to do the right thing even if no one will ever notice or care, it sucks.

          • I know. I literally have not flown anywhere since 9/11. I consider it a matter of principle to keep up with my little boycott. Whenever it is mentioned in my family, they say "oh, you don't like to fly". I say "no, I would love to fly, I just refuse to do all the stupid shit I have to do before I get on a plane". And their response is always to cock their heads like dogs learning a new word.

            It's been 10 years of this, and they still find it easier to think I'm a giant pussy who doesn't want to fly, rather than accept the idea that maybe all those security checks are completely pointless. If you've *had* to fly since 9/11, you've pretty must just accepted this and gone on with your life. But to someone who still tries to do the right thing even if no one will ever notice or care, it sucks.

            Yeah, pretty much.

            Honestly, the ordinary hassles associated with flying are enough to make me hate it anyway. The security stuff just makes it worse. For these reasons I prefer to take the train whenever possible. For some destinations, though, it simply isn't an option.

          • by Kittenman (971447)
            I make it easier on myself. I just don't fly to or through the States. Great country, some lovely people, insane security.
        • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @04:18PM (#36256366)
          They hate pat downs. But they like that the other guy gets them.

          It's like drugs. Most adult Americans have tried drugs without any ill effects. And most think that what they did should be a felony. And most think what they did shouldn't have been a felony when they did it if they were caught.

          People have inconsistent ideas. They hate pat downs. They want to be able to go through without them. They think them useless and ineffective. And when brought to a vote, they'll hate on their fellow Americans enough to vote from spite (wanting the other guy to get patted down) rather than voting with reason and forethought.
        • by jd (1658) <imipak@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Thursday May 26, 2011 @04:29PM (#36256488) Homepage Journal

          People believe in 20 contradictory things before breakfast. It's entirely plausible that 50% of Americans would simultaneously want others patted down for security reasons provided they themselves had legal protection against it, without even realizing that a contradiction even exists.

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        You'd be wrong. Many Americans are either ambivalent (it can't hurt...) or outright supportive (we can't let the terr'ists win!), ignoring the fact that every loss of personal liberty does hurt and that changing our way of life *is* a victory for them. Of course what they really are is irrationally afraid, but it's unpatriotic not to be afraid these days. The biggest irony is that our leaders can on the one hand tell us we have to fight the terrorists who hate our freedom while on the other hand restrict

        • by hoggoth (414195)

          I find it very hard to believe that the average American thinks the TSA pat-downs and porno-scans make them any safer at all. I can think of 10 ways to cause mayhem despite the TSA right off the top of my head, and I'm not trying. What a terrorist wouldn't do would be to try the exact same method that was tried before, ie: bomb in the shoe, etc. And that is exactly what the TSA is looking out for.

      • by GlassHeart (579618) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:20PM (#36255486) Journal

        I think 99% of Americans would support this.

        I don't think you can get 99% of Americans to agree that the earth isn't flat.

      • by Grond (15515)

        What do you mean collapsed? I think 99% of Americans would support this. Oh, you mean support by the few people that make decisions and can easily be bought.

        The proposed law was blatantly unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause. Support collapsed because the legislators realized that it was stupid even as a protest. It had nothing to do with being bought.

    • by denzacar (181829) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:06PM (#36255244) Journal

      Also, the chocolate ration will be raised to twenty grammes a week.

    • And here I was thinking that Texans had a spine. Silly me.

    • by Wovel (964431) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:11PM (#36255350) Homepage

      Too bad our lawmakers are so spineless. That is a battle the FAA would lose. The TSA has done nothing to make us more secure. Every attempted airline incident has been stopped by passengers and/or air marshals. I am sure they would say you just don't here about all the good stuff they do. I say BS.

      • by hondo77 (324058)

        The TSA has done nothing to make us more secure. Every attempted airline incident has been stopped by passengers and/or air marshals.

        You mean the Federal Air Marshals employed by the TSA [tsa.gov], right?

        • by Coolhand2120 (1001761) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:58PM (#36256062)
          I'm pretty sure the GP was talking about the gate security, not the air marshals, which existed under the FAA long before the TSA was ever even thought of. [wikipedia.org] The TSA guys at the gate don't carry guns, they call the local police if there is a problem and, on average, have the intellect of fly larvae, no insult intended towards fly larvae. So something tells me the casting director for the gate TSA guys didn't hire the plainclothes marshals on the planes.

          And nobody has any problem with the air marshals, they don't grope you as you pass by them. Furthermore, air marshals can prevent many types of terrorist threats, and this is true a priori, on the other hand, the TSA's gate screens have only managed to catch a few staff members they accidentally hired that had a criminal history for molesting children. [homelandse...wswire.com] That's right, we hired people who like to molest children to ... molest children! ! It's the fucking pedophile cream dream! And don't think for a second there wasn't a line a mile long of yet-to-be-identified pedophiles lining up for the "Molest the children" job. No, no terrorist plots uncovered. Nobody wishing harm to the people on the aircraft stopped. Oh, they were there! [wikipedia.org] They just let those guys go by. And as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. They have a 100% failure rate, they piss everyone off [youtube.com], El Al thinks they are a fucking joke [reason.com] and they make 1984 [wikipedia.org] look a lot more like it could really happen. Can someone explain why are we blowing our money on this bullshit!?
    • by Lifyre (960576)

      What a shame. I was really looking forward to seeing how this would have played out. Texas would be a great place for this kind of challenge too. They're big enough and important enough that not only would this cause HUGE issues across the country but people might care. If a place like Vermont did it not many people would notice.

    • Yeah, Don't mess with Texas!... er.um unless your a federal agency.

    • It's just as well, judging from a quote in TFA:

      "All that HB 1937 does is require that the TSA abide by the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution," Simpson continued. "We aren't even prohibiting the pat-downs, per se. We're just saying you can't go straight to third base. You have to have a reason-you have to have probable cause-before groping someone's sexual organs."

      If I want to go right to oral sex without obtaining probable cause, I should be able to dammit!

      Stepping up exactly one level of seriousness: I hope Rep. Simpson wasn't exactly clear on what "third base" actually entailed. If there are going to be new TSA regulations actually involve "third base" and they don't hire new gate agents...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Simpson continued.... "We're just saying you can't go straight to third base."

        If I want to go right to oral sex without obtaining probable cause, I should be able to dammit!

        You kids are all whores. Back when I was eligible to play sex baseball (late 90s), third base was junk-groping. In those days, you didn't go down on somebody unless you were willing to go all the way anyway. Sometime between then and now, the kids decided oral wasn't really sex (way to go, Bill!), and third base got redefined. Simpson just never got the memo.

  • Have to wonder since most airports are local/state owned entities, could the TSA legally pull it's shenanigans on flights that originate and terminate within Texas? /yes, of course they will //but isn't the crux of the DOJ's argument around Interstate Commerce?
    • Southwest Airlines exists because of the possibility of intra-Texas flights, so I'd have to say that the TSA would fail.
    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      By NOT participating in interstate commerce, you are affecting interstate commerce. Or so the modern legal theory goes.

      • At which point it becomes intrastate commerce, and the state's responsibility instead of the federal government's. Unlike the purposeful perversion of "interstate" trade that FDR created, that's what the constitution actually says. Regulatory powers over commerce under the Constitution is given to either the Federal government or the state, but not both. Sstates are likewise prohibited from taxing and regulating interstate trade except to control banned products coming into the state.

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:10PM (#36255302)

    "The Department of Justice has sent a letter to Texas legislative leaders warning that the rule would run counter to federal laws."

    What ever happened to the 4th amendment? Isn't that federal law?

    • by Scutter (18425)

      What ever happened to the 4th amendment?

      The what, now? Sorry, doesn't ring a bell.

    • by SirGeek (120712)

      What federal law were they citing ? Oh they weren't citing a specific law because there aren't any !

      The TSA has a "policy", it is NOT a law that you have to have your junk felt up to travel. At least no yet it isn't...

      • You are required to adhere to TSA regulations. Statutory law authorizes and empowers regulatory law.

        That you don't get to see TSA's regulations is another topic.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      That issue has been covered many times... they are not forcing you to get on the plane, you are always free to walk away.

    • Not during this last decade, no.
    • And Texas (should have) wrote back "no shit, that's the point."
  • Sad thing is, I'd rather have a patdown over increased chances of cancer.
    • by Lifyre (960576)

      I know right? No one is going to be particularly impressed with my genitals or physique but honestly if they're that interested they could ask nicely to see my balls... wait no they can't that's sexual harassment... But apparently telling me they're going to look at them or touch them whether I like it or not is ok.

      I wonder what would happen to me if I VOLUNTEERED to show them my balls...

    • by ebuck (585470)

      Do you really think that a back scattering machine contains the energy back scattered from your body when it has two huge gaping holes aligned with the most common entry / exit paths? As far as I can tell, to the people standing in line, the only shielding is a few feet of air (and the bodies of those before them).

      So take your pat down (if you're lucky to get it instead of a screening). But don't think you're getting off with no exposure. Note that the TSA people generally don't stand in front of the ent

  • by bradorsomething (527297) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:18PM (#36255460)
    Something's going on in the background here... it's unlikely these legislators are taking such a myopic view. Say the TSA tries to ban flights to Texas... really? Would anyone stand for this? Even a Californian would stand up for Texas if that were to happen. Even an Oregonian... hell, maybe even someone from Delaware.

    This bill sounds like something John Wayne would support, which means it should be gravy to pass through the Texas house.
    • It did pass through the Texas House, and did so without a Nay vote. It was the Texas Senate that changed things up at the last minute when the federal DOJ began issuing memos about the consequences.

      This would have been almost instantly stayed by the courts had it been signed into law. It would be on hold until it made its way to the Supreme Court which would, I suspect, overturn it on about a 7-2 basis, if there was any dissent.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I'm not so sure. This violates the rights of Texans to travel freely about the country as well as being an unwarranted grab on states' rights. Additionally, the Federal Government only has limited rights in terms of impeding interstate travel.

      So, this could also be a very Texan thing to do.

  • I mean, there is this (emphasis mine):

    "Instead of threatening to shut down flights in Texas, why doesn't the TSA just show us their statutory authority to grope or ogle our private parts?" asked Simpson.

    But aside from that, and perhaps it's my unfamiliarity with the proposal, I don't see any indication that this is trying to end the practice of treating everyone like a criminal.

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:22PM (#36255530)

    Texas caved almost immediately. The next time some Texan starts bragging about what badasses they are down there, I'm going to bring this up. The TSA wrote one threatening letter and they peed their collective pants and groveled.

  • Groping (Score:5, Funny)

    by verbatim (18390) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:30PM (#36255634) Homepage

    But if the TSA doesn't grope my junk, who will?

    Forever Alone...

  • I've already suggest to my local representative that she introduce similar legislation in Indiana..... here's what I wrote:
        I ask that you consider introducing legislation similar to that of the recently pulled HB 1937 of the State of Texas.

        Here's the link to their web site about the bill: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB1937 [state.tx.us]

        It would criminalize the types of searches the TSA has been doing, which are in violation of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution.

        In introducing this, you would show that you stand for the rights of your fellow Hoosiers. We don't have as much air traffic to worry about, so their is less fallout. You would also show some distance between yourself and the DC beltway crowd, which will probably come in handy soon, as they keep debasing the dollar, leaving the States out to dry.

        Thanks for your time and attention.

    • by qubezz (520511) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @04:37PM (#36256576)

      I would think committing sexual assault would be already against the law in every US state. If you discover after you go through security that you are going to have your genitals and breasts groped, you are threatened with arrest and financial penalty if you do not submit or if you attempt to escape the false imprisonment. The TSA saying it is a voluntary search would be an easily broken defence. There's a few top hands at the TSA that could have arrest warrants set on them for conspiracy to commit sex crimes.

      Just following orders [wikipedia.org] has not been proven an infallible defence.

      How about Texas boots the TSA out of their state, loads up planes using their own security procedures that follows the US constitution (namely the 4th [rights against unreasonable search and seizure], 5th [no person shall be deprived of property and liberty], 2nd [the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed], common law [wikipedia.org][right to travel], and especially the 10th [powers not delegated to the US by the constitution are reserved to the states]). Then they can see if the US government is willing to shoot down planes full of US citizens or let them crash after they run out of fuel instead of granting a landing. Be ready to hire your own air traffic controllers too. Security theatre is unnecessary, a terrorist would have to buy every ticket on the flight to have a chance of committing another 9/11 attack, because passengers would beat a hijacker to death with their bare hands.

  • by Goboxer (1821502) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:45PM (#36255864)

    Despite their huffing and puffing it is not economically feasible or wise to shut down Texas air traffic. Houston is a major hub for several shipping companies and there are other large companies based in Texas. If they were to prevent air travel that would undermine the economic recovery they Feds have been chasing. Maybe not a lot, but a simple act like that would have rippling impacts and cost this country millions if not billions of dollars.

    Texas should play their game and call their bluff.

    • That was my thought exactly. How long do you think a federal ban on air travel too and from Texas would last? Especially with an election coming up.
    • Houston is a major hub for several shipping companies and there are other large companies based in Texas. If they were to prevent air travel that would undermine the economic recovery they Feds have been chasing.

      My understanding is that the ban would only be applicable to retail flights. Private flights (commercial, recreational) should be completely independent of whatever the FAA does to US Airways, Delta, and whoever else is left

  • From the story:

    The Department of Justice has sent a letter to Texas legislative leaders warning that the rule would run counter to federal laws, and could cause the Transportation Security Administration to "cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew."

    So can the DoJ demonstrate how the gropedown ensures the safety of passengers and crew ? Try starting with how many ''terrorists'' have been caught. If they cannot then what Texas is doing won't affect safety. I can see that it will affect the job security of TSA employees, but that seems about it -- the money would be better spent elsewhere, eg: on healthcare which would have a better positive affect on passengers and crew.

  • by ikarous (1230832) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @04:25PM (#36256452)
    It reads: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  • by assertation (1255714) on Friday May 27, 2011 @07:17AM (#36261430)

    Maybe the doomsday preacher John Camping was right about the end of the world coming and he was just wrong with the date.

    Texas is doing something that sounds progressive.

    If that isn't a sign of the apocalypse I don't know what is.

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