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Antigroping bill pulled after TSA threat

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  May 25, 2011 12:46 PM

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Score this one: US 1, Texas 0.

Bowing to political pressure in the state and by federal regulators, Republican Texas Senator Dan Patrick, sponsor of a bill in that would make intrusive patdowns of the genital area by the TSA a criminal offense, withdrew it when he realized he would not have the votes he needed to pass it.

The measure was passed by the Texas House on May 13. After that proposal was approved, the TSA posted a response on its blog, citing the Constitution's Supremacy Clause, which declares the primacy of federal laws over state restrictions.

Before the Tuesday's scheduled vote US Attorney John E. Murphy wrote to Joe Straus, speaker of the state House, Senator David Dewhurst, president of the Senate, and Patsy Shaw, secretary of the Senate, basically reprising the Constitutional argument. But Murphy went farther, suggesting that if the bill were passed the TSA would have no choice but to cancel flights going into Texas in the interest of public safety. A copy of Murphy's letter was posted on Kashmir Hill's The Not-So Private Parts blog on Forbes.com.

Patrick, undeniably miffed at the turn of events, told the Texas Tribune: “There was a time in this state, there was a time in our history, where we stood up to the federal government and we did not cower to rules and policies that invaded the privacy of Texans.”

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