Texas: Anti TSA bill pulled after letter from DOJSubmitted by senseido on Wed, 05/25/2011 - 18:27
Correspondence from U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy warned of the potential consequences -- including the cancelation of flights to and from Texas -- if the anti-TSA-groping bill passes.
"I voted for it [HB 1937], and I know people have concerns ... but I get concerned when I see a letter from the Department of Justice" warning of the consequences, said Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen) this evening as Senators debated the bill.
LSR reviewed a copy of that letter, adressed to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Speaker Joe Straus, the House Clerk, and the Senate Secretary.
"If HR [sic] 1937 were enacted, the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute," the letter read, on U.S. Department of Justice, Western District of Texas, stationery. "Unless or until such a stay were granted, TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew.
"We urge that you consider the ramifications of this bill before casting your vote," the letter concluded.
Bill author Rep. David Simpson's (R-Longview) staff said this amounts to the Department of Justice having "thrown down the gauntlet."
"Either Texas backs off and continues to let government employees fondle innocent women, children and men as a condition of travel," the staff wrote, "or the TSA [Transportation Safety Administration] has the authority tocancel flights or series of flights.
"... 97 percent of people who go though the nation's airports do not go through these offensive searches. And yet, a United States Attorney warns that flights to Texas could be shut down because TSA would not be able to ensure the safety of passengers and crew if agents could not touch genitals. Someone must make a stand against the atrocities of our government agents ..."
LSR will gladly run responses from the Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and the TSA when received. We'll have more as this develops, as well as a link to the letter.
(9:32 p.m.) Senate sponsor Dan Patrick (R-Houston) pulled down HB 1937. But he didn't pull it until after some firey rhetoric about the principles of the bill, as well as allegations that TSA representatives were "lobbying" the Texas Senate today. "I will pull HB 1937 down, but I will stand for Liberty in the state of Texas," Patrick said.
(10:36 p.m.) Mike Walz, communications director for Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, confirmed that the letter is authentic and was read by Dewhurst, as well as several Senators who inquired about it this evening. Minor edits made to the story to reflect this update, and to correct some errors. Follow-up blog post in the works.