“Time to Take Down TSA” was the Heritage Foundation’s headline. The author, James Carafano, was commenting on a recent study he coauthored for the D.C.-based think-tank. But in typical establishment, inside-the-beltway fashion, his prescription for the Transportation Security Administration would take down nothing. Nor would it restore to the states a constitutional level of federal aviation oversight – which is zero.

Just like politicians who throw buzzwords like “reform” around to pander to constituents, these groups who advocate “rethinking” the TSA have nothing profound to contribute to the discourse. Under such a plan, which involved “redefining” the TSA’s role, no fundamental change would take place in transportation security.

What Carafano and the Heritage Foundation call for is changing the role of the TSA from providing “security” directly, to “making aviation security policy and regulations.” He goes on to suggest that: “Screening responsibility would devolve to the airports, whose security operations would be supervised by a federal security director.”

This is really no different than the various federal agencies charged with waging the war on drugs shifting their focus from direct action to merely writing policy and regulations. In the same way that airports would be responsible to implement the government’s central plan, drug enforcement would be turned over to semi-private agencies which, under the direct supervision of the feds, would continue the very same assault on our civil liberties. At least the current system allows the tyranny and incompetence to be directly associated with government, whereas a more “privatized” system would tend to shift the blame away from the feds and onto others.

But practically speaking, what difference is there between a federal agent fondling your sexual organs and an airport employee doing the same? The fact that customers would still be forced to undergo invasive searches, which are unnecessary, potentially harmful, and often ineffective to boot, offers no real change.

What really must be done, in order to both restore individual liberty and ensure adequate security, is for the TSA to be thrown out completely and replaced with nothing. In much the same way that shopping malls and armored car companies have an incentive to defend their property and their patrons, airlines would provide security for their passengers. The whole notion that without federal bureaucrats and their regulations that individuals can’t function and society would crumble is absurd.

Remember, we’ve tried the whole “government regulates the airline industry” thing and what we got was 9/11. That’s right, the attacks on September 11th (also known as “Government Failure Day”) happened because airlines followed the directions of the FAA. Namely, they didn’t arm their pilots and mostly complied with the hijackers’ demands. We don’t need government regulating stuff, we need it deregulating stuff.

As I mentioned in the outset, the feds have no constitutional jurisdiction over transportation security. This is something which should be left to the states, or to the people. Furthermore, any misconstrued interpretation of the commerce clause granting oversight of the skies certainly doesn’t repeal 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures as goes on daily in our airports.

With the TSA being a bi-partisan program and deeply entrenched it’s unlikely that any needed change will come from the very group that instituted it. That’s why the states should intervene and put an end to such tyranny within their own jurisdiction. Texas began the process last spring but backed down when confronted by the feds. It’s time this came up for another debate.

Joel Poindexter
Latest posts by Joel Poindexter (see all)

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



Featured Articles

On the Constitution, history, the founders, and analysis of current events.

featured articles


Tenther Blog and News

Nullification news, quick takes, history, interviews, podcasts and much more.

tenther blog


State of the Nullification Movement

232 pages. History, constitutionality, and application today.

get the report


Path to Liberty

Our flagship podcast. Michael Boldin on the constitution, history, and strategy for liberty today

path to liberty


Maharrey Minute

The title says it all. Mike Maharrey with a 1 minute take on issues under a 10th Amendment lens. maharrey minute

Tenther Essentials

2-4 minute videos on key Constitutional issues - history, and application today


Join TAC, Support Liberty!

Nothing helps us get the job done more than the financial support of our members, from just $2/month!



The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.