It's now up to Texas Gov. Rick Perry to rescue the nation's travelers from the indignity of x-rated airport screening at the hands of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). On Tuesday, a state House of Representatives committee is scheduled to consider revised legislation holding blue-gloved bureaucrats criminally liable for grabbing the private parts of passengers without probable cause or consent. For the measure to proceed further, however, Mr. Perry would have to formally add it to the list of bills considered during the special session now under way.
State Rep. David P. Simpson, the bill's author, believes that ought to be the natural thing to do for Mr. Perry, author of the book, "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington." Mr. Simpson's legislation merely clarifies that federal agents do not have a blank check to violate the Lone Star State's criminal statutes while acting without explicit orders from Congress - no such orders exist. "This is not nullification," Mr. Simpson explained to The Washington Times. "There is no federal law we're contravening. We're seeking to protect the citizens of Texas from an overreach - literally - of a federal bureaucracy that's gone wild."
TSA is so brazen that the most perverted aspect of the job has become a selling point used in advertisements: "A career where x-ray vision and federal benefits come standard - become a Transportation Security Officer."
Support for reining in this unseemly conduct crosses party lines. Phones throughout the state capital have been ringing off the hook, prompting House members on both sides of the aisle to embrace the bill unanimously last month. On the eve of a final Senate vote, however, a last-minute Obama administration threat to ground all air travel in Texas derailed the issue in the regular session. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a Republican, called on Mr. Perry to add the TSA bill to the special-session agenda. A near-unanimous State Republican Executive Committee joined in that call, as have a number of Tea Party groups.
Grass-roots activists see the importance of taking a stand against federal power that continues to grow without limit. The public rightly wants air travel to be secure, but nobody believes groping grandmothers and toddlers does anything to achieve that goal. Applying criminal statutes to TSA agents doesn't mean screeners will end up spending time in the slammer. It's even less likely that the White House would cut off the primary hub airports like Dallas and Houston, which would cause unprecedented travel chaos. Rather, Mr. Perry needs to advance this bill because it would force a rogue federal agency to revise the obscene policies it devised behind closed doors without the support or confidence of the American people.
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