The Transportation Safety Administration has flexed the power of President Obama’s federal government. This is same government, mind you, that could not be bothered to accept a default judgment against the New Black Panther Party for the most blatant bit of voter intimidation in the past decade. But it sure can harass the heck out of states that step out of line.
Texas was set to tell the federal government where it could put its groping pat-downs of airline passengers who refuse to submit to full body scanners. The state house had already passed a bill that would make it a felony to touch the private parts of travelers and would subject TSA screeners to fines and imprisonment for such actions. The bill was moving on to the Texas senate.
Enter the TSA which issued a warning to Texas that it had better back off from its plans or else. Or else what you ask? Or else it would cancel all flights in and out of the Lone Star State for security reasons. The result of this threat? The bill has been tabled and support for it has collapsed. Let us all weep for Texas.
Texas has been beaten down. How even the most mighty and once proud have been forced to kowtow to the will of a federal government which is exerting authority well beyond anything it possesses. A threat to prevent private businesses from doing business in Texas if Texas does not let the TSA do whatever it is they are doing? I guess that is not to be unexpected. After all this is the same federal government that just recently pitched a fit about Boeing daring to try to open a new non-union facility in a state that arrogantly allows such.
Whoa! What is this? Liberty? No, no, no – the feds cannot have that. Off with their heads!
“Blogger Bob”, a courageous TSA official (note my sarcasm please) who writes in support of the TSA on their official blog, has commented against Texas for their plan. Recently he penned a silly and ill-informed remark with the particular intent of trying to convince Americans that states like Texas simply do not have the right to tell the federal government what to do because the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2), “prevents states from regulating the federal government”.
“Blogger Bob” of course has deep credentials as a Constitutional scholar. Ok, maybe not.
His qualifications for his comments, as stated in his profile on the TSA’s blog, include being a singer-songwriter (prior to joining the TSA), a love of ugly ties, serving in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, training to be a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Decontamination specialist, working as an Operations Watch Officer, Instructor, Training Coordinator, Behavior Detection Officer, and serving as the Vice Chairman on TSA's first National Advisory Council. Wow. Oh wait, here it is, he is qualified to comment on the Constitution and be taken seriously because he is a “Social Media Analyst with the Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs” for the TSA and he manages their blog.
Wow, with a list of qualifications like this, and having worked for the TSA since September 2002 who would ever not trust something that this man has to say?
Since the TSA has sent “Blogger Bob” out to be their point man on defending their actions, let’s look at what the Supremacy Clause, which he cites as ruling this situation, actually says. Note, I am about to make people like “Blogger Bob” very uncomfortable by actually quoting the Constitution. Then I am going to do something extremely outrageous and base my commentary on the actual words it contains rather than just talking out of my posterior like some TSA lackeys apparently do.
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land” – Article VI, Clause 2
Note what this actually says. It says that all laws made in “pursuance” of the Constitution shall the supreme Law of the Land. The word “pursuance” is important because it means that only laws made within the bounds of the Constitution are in fact law. For example, if the federal government decided that tomorrow it would pass a law which made all people with blonde hair and blue eyes slaves would that be an actual law? No, because the Constitution does not grant this authority. In fact, it specially states that slavery, except for punishment of a crime, is not allowed. See how this works? It is so simple a caveman can understand it.
So are the policies and procedures of the TSA indeed in “pursuance” of the Constitution?
The Constitution does say that that the people have the right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” That is Amendment IV just in case you are reading this Mr. "Blogger Bob". I think one can make the case quite eloquently that searching everyone getting on every plane (by one means or another) constitutes an unreasonable act.
The mindless justification for doing this is that somewhere among these people trying to get on these planes there might be a criminal and therefore all people are to be treated as criminals. I scoff at such a concept. So does the Constitution. Might as well solve the problem once and for all and lock up everyone that ever intends to fly under the auspice that they might be terrorists. Whallah! No more problems with hijacked planes ever.
I think there is also no doubt that “randomly” setting aside a smaller group of these same passengers for even more scrutiny and a higher level of searching can clearly be seen as “unreasonable” by reasonable people. Note that the definition of random means to do something without, “definite aim, reason, or pattern.” Or, to put it more simply, to do something without “reason” (i.e. unreasonable).
Now, if you have a man who is overheard in the weeks prior to taking a flight talking about blowing up airplanes and the bomb he plans to pack in his suitcase? There you would have a reason to search him. But to run attractive blondes without even a hint of a criminal record through full body scanners? What is reasonable about that?
Aside from the fourth amendment issues, which government officials from the likes of “Blogger Bob” on up to the President himself simply poo-poo, because after all, we the unwashed masses are not as smart as them, let’s look at the actual history of our Constitution.
I do not know if “Blogger Bob” is being told what to say by his handlers or if he actually came up with his sophomoric argument all by himself. But what I do know is that anyone who says something as utterly stupid as the Constitution, “prevents states from regulating the federal government,” is simply not very literate about history.
I say this confidently because the Constitution itself, by its nature, is the results of the people and the States regulating the federal government. Our Constitution is at its most basic a series of authorities we, the people, through our States, have chosen to give to the federal government. It is a series of boundaries. These boundaries are ones we have put up to constrain federal authority and to allow our national government to only to perform a limited number of tasks of such importance that they require a single authority, rather than many individual ones, to accomplish. Article I spells out these very limited powers with regards to Congress. Article 2 does the same for the President. Article 3 gives the list for the courts.
Yes, our federal government is indeed tasked with maintaining our national defense and security. But this does not mean that anything the federal government wants to do, but cannot find justification for, can be lumped under this power just so the federal government can partake of said activity. It would be as if the government declared the existence of red markers a national security threat because they have it on good authority that terrorists used red markers in planning the events of September 11th. Then because of this they went about passing laws regulating red markers and subjecting anyone to random searches for the offending material. That is just silly and no one would stand for it. Well, “Blogger Bob” might.
But I am sure that “Blogger Bob” will continue to grace us with more opinions of his on the Constitution. After all, he’s from the government and he’s here to help us better understand the Constitution as the federal government wants us to understand it. This new understanding however includes the necessity that the Constitution’s meaning be rewritten to become a limitless grant of power to the federal government. This must be the case rather than, as the ninth and tenth amendments remind us, that we the people retain all powers not specifically delegated to the feds.
Hint to "Blogger Bob:" that includes where airplanes and the private companies that operate them can and cannot fly to.
Folks like “Blogger Bob” think that only the glory and the power that is the TSA can make our skies safe. I disagree. I think it is clear that the airlines themselves have every interest in making sure their planes do not go boom in the skies above America. See, that is the brilliance of capitalism! If American Airlines, just as an example, has a habit of letting hijackers on board its planes and people are dying on their flights then they are going to have a hard time convincing Americans to fly on what would quickly become known as “Jihad Air”. Also, when the airlines are doing the security for their own planes you eliminate all the Constitutional questions that arise when the federal government does it.
The federal government has been lawless for years, ignoring its constitutional bounds. Recently however they have gone even further. I know it is hard to believe. But they have actually gone to tyranny and beyond.
Copyright ©2011 J.J. Jackson