His effort to end enhanced pat-downs at Texas airports is a publicity stunt that's doomed to fail. Here's why we should celebrate it anyway.
A few months ago, Republicans in the Texas legislature introduced a bill that would've made it illegal for TSA agents to perform enhanced pat-downs on air travelers without probable cause. The anti-groping measure had enough support that the feds feared it might become law. So they sent a letter to the Lone Star State threatening to ground all flights at its airports if it passed.
The intimidation tactic succeeded: The bill's sponsor withdrew the legislation. As Texas Gov. Rick Perry ponders a presidential run, however, he's decided to revive it. The Houston Chronicle reports:
Gov. Rick Perry announced he had added legislation that would make it illegal for TSA agents to engage in "intrusive touching" at airports security checkpoints without probable cause to the list of items for the legislature to consider during the special session.
The measure had previously failed to muster enough support in the Texas Senate to come up for a vote because the Justice Department wrote a scathing memo against the bill, which threatened legal action against the state, and the measure became enmeshed in Senate politics.
Threats from the federal government remain an obstacle to passage, and if the bill became law it would almost certainly be challenged in federal court. Even if this is just a publicity-seeking stunt, however, it's nice to see that it is suddenly good populist politics to push back against War on Terror national-security excesses. It isn't so long ago that a red meat Texas Republican wouldn't dream of doing such a thing -- during the Bush era, the populist bet was to back ever more "measures to keep us safe."