Update on the Rand Paul/TSA thing.

The Daily Caller reports that Senator Rand Paul told them that:

  • He was put in a cubicle and told not to leave for two hours:
  • That for an hour and a half he was told that he would have to submit to a pat-down;
  • That eventually Senator Paul was told that he would not have to submit to a pat-down, and was in fact cleared to fly without one;
  • And that he does not believe that the incident was politically motivated.

Fair enough on that last point; but I’m going to have to say that all of this sounds uncomfortably like a Senator getting detained over what turned out to not be a mandatory procedure, after all.  There’s been a lively discussion out there whether this represents a violation if Rand Paul’s Article I,  Section 6 rights as a Senator; and I’m going to take a somewhat absolutist position on this, frankly.  I’m not comfortable on general principles with the idea of a Member of Congress being restrained on his or her way to or fro from Congress; and while there may be a bright line on this issue it’s not, in my opinion, when it comes to a fairly cosmetic ‘security’ procedure that nobody really expects an American Senator to flunk anyway.

Seriously, if Rand Paul – or, say, Ben Cardin, or any other Senator you might want to name – is a legitimate risk of smuggling explosives on board an airplane then we might as well give up now.

16 thoughts on “Update on the Rand Paul/TSA thing.”

  1. Rand has also given off the vibe that he’s not torqued that HE was treated this way- but that ANYONE gets treated this way. This earns him my respect.

  2. Indeed. The only legitimate reasons to even slow down a Senator or Representative on their way to or from DC are specified in the Constitution: treason, felony, or breach of the peace.

  3. I think Senators are among the most dangerous persons on the planet. We would not have OfumbleCare without them.

    That said, TSA can go haave unprotected sex with many syphilitic camels. And then FOAD.

  4. 1. Either the machine pinged, or it didn’t.
    2. If it pinged, he had to be searched before flying.
    3. He refused to be searched.
    4. He was allowed to fly anyway.
    5. Ergo, either the machine didn’t ping, or they let him fly because he was a member of the nomenklatura.

  5. 6. Or the machine isn’t consistent and sometimes pings for no reason whatsoever.

    They finally put him back through the machine again– what he had been asking for all along– and it didn’t go off.

  6. Phil, it is absolutely, totally irrelevant whether the machine pinged, didn’t ping, or lit every situation board at NORAD with red lights and sirens. Bringing up the machine’s reaction is an attempt to divert people from the subject.

    Paul is a Senator. Senators are members of Congress. Members of Congress SHALL NOT BE IMPEDED except in extreme cases. The Constitution doesn’t say “stopped” or “prevented”. It says “impeded”, that is, slowed down or temporarily inconvenienced. Paul lost two hours. That’s an impediment, and it’s unConstitutional.

    Yeah, there’s the potential for abuse — LBJ doing 110 in his Lincoln on Texas back roads comes to mind. It fails to matter. The Constitution ALSO says that the only judge of the qualifications of members of Congress is Congress. If anybody’s going to slap a Senator down, it has to be the Senate, not some TSA baby-groper.

    “Nomenklatura”, bullshit. Congresscritters are important because they’re Congresscritters. The Framers put that requirement in because they knew history, particularly the events surrounding the English Revolution and Restoration. If this stands, all the President has to do is tell TSA that Senators can’t go to Washington for a while. Presto, no session, and a free hand for recess appointments.


  7. Sen. Paul said in an interview that he has been told by three top ranking people that the “pings” are random features and not associated with having something on one’s person that sets off the machine.

    This is exceedingly relevant from a Fourth Amendment seizure standpoint. While a more intrusive search may be constitutionally permissible if one sets off the machine by having something on one’s person that is detected, a random selection of persons for a more intrusive search violates the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court has ruled so in the context of DUI checkpoints and I believe that the analysis of the Court is on point here.

    Although I find the pat downs to be more intrusive than necessary from a law enforcement perspective even when the machine reacts to a person’s going through, if the TSA is randomly selecting people for patdowns, this is a no brainer constitutional violation.

  8. Fine, Ric. In that case, congresscritters are absolutely unequivocally exempt from all TSA procedures. Passing through security AT ALL is an “impediment”. Let’s go all the way with this, or not at all. The idea that the TSA screeners are even aware that the Constitution is divided into articles, much less what is in Section 6 of Article 1, is frankly laughable.
    For what it’s worth, my comment regarding the nomenklatura was not directed at Paul’s behavior, but at the behavior of the TSA. They didn’t let him fly because they sat down and read the Constitution. They let him fly because he is The Man.

  9. You have obviously not seen enough TV or film. He is exactly the sort of person Matt Damion is trying to save us from.

  10. Phil, Article 1 Section 6 is in Article I for a reason- and it’s based on English law that’s a bunch of centuries older than the Consititution. It wasn’t an afterthought and it wasn’t snuck in there by the venture-capital lobby. If you were complaining about Congresscritters immunizing themselves from IRS reporting requirements or from Obamacare, that would be one thing- but don’t you think, just maybe, that the Framers had a good reason to not want the people’s elected representatives arrested or delayed on their way to and from the capital?

  11. I get the argument, Dave. I also get that TSA screeners are typically not the sharpest knives in the drawer. The argument that is being made entails the consequence I’ve pointed out – they cannot be screened AT ALL on their way to DC. I’m actually okay with that, as long as there is a protocol for it. If they aren’t exempt from screening, then refusal to submit is easily construed as a Breach of the Peace, which, if you would bother to read the entire clause, is one reason a member can be detained – “Treason, Felony, or Breach of the Peace”.

  12. If you want to lump …what? minor violation BoP (is that even on the books anymore?) in with treason and felony counts, and call it reason to violate a black-letter COnstitutional perogative… go right ahead. I’ve got a nice refrigerator box to let you have, after the defendant takes your house in the civil false-arrest proceedings…
    Dude, get over it. The Founders were right, you’re wrong.

  13. I tell you what, son, you try refusing additional search at the airport and tell me it’s a ‘minor BoP’. And then, go back and read what I actually typed. I can’t understand it for you, so you’ll have to put in some effort.

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