Update – the bill passed a 2nd reading on May 12th. The third and final vote, on may 13th had the bill passing by a vote of 138-0. It now moves on to the Senate.
While states across the country are considering and passing bills to reject or nullify what many see as federal overreach in areas like health care, gun rights, medical marijuana, and more, the Texas State House struck a resounding blow tonight by becoming the nation’s first legislative body to pass a TSA nullification bill.
House Bill 1937, introduced by Representative David Simpson, seeks to ban searches by TSA (and other) agents “without probable cause” as the 4th amendment requires. It states, in part:
A person who is a public servant [acting under color of his office or employment] commits an offense if the person:
(2) while acting under color of the person’s office or 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;
Even though reports from groups such as The Foundation for a Free Society, Texans for Accountable Government, and Libertarian Longhorns all indicate that the House passed HB1937 “passed by a unanimous voice vote at approximately 11pm this evening,” there’s still what many consider to be a tough battle in the Senate ahead.
The principle behind such legislation is nullification, which has a long history in the American tradition. When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective,’ within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.
Implied in any nullification legislation is enforcement of the state law. In the Virginia Resolution of 1798, James Madison wrote of the principle of interposition:
That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.
HB1937 explicitly includes the interposition principle by making searches without warrant an offense in the state, theoretically requiring the sheriff or state police to arrest the progress of such acts.
ON TO THE SENATE
Even though Senate passage might be an uphill battle, Simpson remained positive in an update to supporters, saying, “HB 1937 passed second reading in the Texas House this evening. I would like to thank the many Texans and Americans around the country for their support and prayers. May God continue to grant favor to this effort in the Texas Senate and with the Governor. For Texas and Liberty.”
Norman Horn of Libertarian Longhorns seemed even more upbeat. “One step closer to victory!”. And, Heather Fazio of Texans for Accountable Government shared her expectations as well, “It’ll be referred to a senate committee then we make sure it passes there…”
Also being considered in the Texas legislature is another of Simpson’s bills to nullify the TSA, HB1938, which would ban the use of body scanners in all Texas airports. Stay tuned to this website for updates on both legislative efforts. And, click here to track all TSA nullification bills around the country.
Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center tell us to expect to see at least 10 other states consider such legislation in 2012. Should it pass in Texas, we expect that number to be significantly higher…putting the TSA square in the crosshairs of a rapidly growing movement to reject unconstitutional federal acts on a state level.