Friday, May 13, 2011

Legislators Seek Curbs on Airport Patdowns

UPI: Legislators in several states have introduced bans on airport patdowns, but the moves are largely symbolic, observers say. "What's going on is a trampling of the Constitution," Michael Doherty, a Republican state senator in New Jersey, told USA Today.

Legislation barring federal Transportation Security Administration security personnel from conducting patdowns or using body scanners have been offered in New Jersey, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Texas.

The New Hampshire measure would have made touching travelers' private parts a sex crime. But only the Texas bill has made any progress: It passed the state House Thursday. But policy experts say states have no authority over federal agencies like the TSA.

"It's a way of getting attention and objecting to the intrusiveness of the search procedures," said Alan Rosenthal, a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey. "But I don't think any of that could pre-empt federal requirements."

A proclaimed national "Opt Out" day of protest against the screening on the day before Thanksgiving was a flop. The TSA says it has gotten 898 complaints from November through March out of about 252 million air travelers.

The agency says fewer than 3 percent of travelers get patdowns.

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