Can Texas Arrest TSA Agents for Groping?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 18, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Since the TSA introduced its "enhanced" pat down procedure in November, there has been a lot of uproar, likening airport pat downs to sexual assault and federally sponsored groping.

One too many groped children (and a former beauty queen) later, and Texas legislators have apparently had enough.

Late last week, the state House of Representatives passed a Texas TSA pat down ban, criminalizing airport pat downs that it feels go too far.

The federally-funded TSA isn't amused, or particularly worried.

As it stands, TSA pat down procedure requires agents to run their hands up the inside of a passenger's thighs and feel around a woman's breasts.

The Texas TSA pat down ban, which still must be approved by the state Senate, punishes a public servant with up to 1 year in jail and/or a $4,000 fine if he:

"touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing, or touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person."

In other words, no intrusive pat downs allowed.

Even if a passenger chooses it over a scanner.

Though this may seem like a great idea, the fact is that the Texas TSA pat down ban is merely symbolic.

The Constitution's Supremacy Clause preempts state laws that are in direct conflict with valid federal law, and as of this moment, the current TSA pat down procedures are legally enforceable.

So while state public servants can't grope airline passengers under the Texas TSA pat down ban, TSA agents can ignore the law and grope as usual.

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