Monday, May 16, 2011
The Texas House of Representatives this week passed legislation that would ban TSA pat-down searches, among other actions by state and federal officers.
The legislation, H.B. 1937, states that any "public servant" commits an offense when
while acting under color of the person's office of employment without probable cause to believe the other person committed an offense:
(A) performs a search for the purpose of granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation; and
(B) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(i) touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing; or
(ii) touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.
The legislation also more generally bans any intentional denial or impediment by a "public servant" of "any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing the actor's conduct is unlawful."
The legislation defines "public servant" to include an "officer, employee, or agent of the United States."
The bill (if it were to become law)--obviously preempted by federal law creating and empowering the TSA, among other federal "public servants"--is best understood as yet another political statement by a State objecting to federal policy. (This appears to be the first state bill passed by any house in any state legislature that would ban TSA pat-downs.)