What the Constitution Says – Were Senator Paul’s Rights Violated When He Was Detained by TSA?
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
Constitution of the United States
Article 1, Section 6
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was refused entry into a secured area of the Nashville Airport today after he reportedly rejected a TSA pat-down. According to the Senator, he was “detained” by TSA and forced to miss his flight. Mr. Paul cited the U.S. Constitution, specifically Article 1, Section 6 that clearly protects Senators and Representatives from arrest if they are on their way to, or returning from, a session of their respective House.
US Sen. Rand Paul says he was stopped briefly by TSA agents security at the Nashville airport when a scanner found an “anomaly” on his knee.
The Republican who frequently uses the airport about an hour from his Bowling Green, Ky., home told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he asked for another scan but refused a pat down by airport security. He said he was “detained” at a small cubicle. He was later escorted out of the airport by local authorities and missed his flight to Washington for a Senate session. .
Paul’s communication director Moira Bagley, (@moirabagley,) tweeted at about 10 a.m.: “Just got a call from @senrandpaul. He’s currently being detained by TSA in Nashville.”
The TSA responded to today’s incident:
“When an irregularity is found during the TSA screening process, it must be resolved prior to allowing a passenger to proceed to the secure area of the airport,” according to an official statement released by TSA. “Passengers who refuse to complete the screening process cannot be granted access to the secure area in order to ensure the safety of others traveling.”
Source: CS Monitor
Putting the ethics, morality and Constitutionality of TSA groping aside for the moment, did the Transportation Security Administration’s detainment and subsequent refusal to allow Senator Paul aboard an airplane that was to take him to a Congressional session violate Article 1, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution?
The law was likely written to prevent politicians from having their rivals unjustifiably detained as they travelled to vote on important legislative matters.
The importance of this section is further emphasized by the Articles of Confederation (Ratified March 1, 1781), which acted as a bridge between the newly found government of the colonies and the U.S Constitution (1789), and in which Article 5 provides for the same protections as the US Constitution:
Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any Court, or place out of Congress, and the members of congress shall be protected in their persons from arrests and imprisonments, during the time of their going to and from, and attendance on congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.
Even before the ratification of the Constitution, delegates from the original colonies understood the importance of allowing representatives of the people to travel to and from their sessions without being hindered – unless they were committing a felonious crime or breaching the peace.
It seems, by all accounts, that the Transportation Security Administration has grossly overstepped it bounds. Despite what TSA leadership and officers may think, or what our views may be about how the situation was or should have been handled, the Constitution of the United States is very clear on these matters.
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Date: January 23rd, 2012
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