Texas lawmakers shelve bill to ban TSA pat-downs

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TSA argued the proposed legislation was unconstitutional, and in a letter from U.S. District Attorney for Western Texas John Murphy to senators, the Department of Justice said the law could have unintended consequences.

"This office, as well as the Southern, Northern and Eastern District of Texas United States Attorneys, would like to advise you of the significant legal and practical problems that will be created if this bill becomes law," Murphy wrote in a letter dated May 24.

"If HR 1937 were enacted, the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute," Murphy's letter continued. "Unless or until such a stay were granted, TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or a series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of the passengers and crew."

The sponsor of the bill that passed the Texas House, state Rep. David Simpson (R), called the DOJ letter "a brazen show of disregard for the dignity and the constitutional rights of American citizens.

"Either Texas backs off and continues to let government employees fondle innocent women, children and men as a condition of travel, or the TSA will cancel Texas flights," Simpson's office said in a statement this week. "The federal government showed its willingness to bully the State of Texas if attempts to protect passengers from being forced to give up constitutional rights are not dropped. 

"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," Simpson asked in response to TSA's claim that the Texas bill would have violated the Constitution's supremacy clause.