First of all, how does TSA miss this?
They’re checking the diapers of seniors and babies for bombs and guns (because that’s the type of people that typically attack airplanes). They’re using machines that expose every inch of you to the random perusal of a unionized, blue-shirted, under-appreciated and over-empowered government agent. They have been accused of stealing iPads and electronics from travelers bags. And now they missed a stun gun at security.
A cleaning crew reportedly found the stun gun in a seatback pocket while tidying up a plane that had landed at Newark. The flight had originated at Logan International in Boston but had made several other stops during the day. The Newark Port Authority has turned the weapon over to the Trouser Search Administration, which said it and the FBI are jointly investigating the matter but that it was currently unclear how the device got on board.
via If You Left a Stun Gun on a JetBlue Flight Friday, the TSA Would Like to Speak With You – Lowering the Bar.
I guess it could have been the gun of a US Marshall who is just too embarrassed to go back for it, but I thought they packed the real thing.
I know there is a learning curve to this whole national-security-meets-theater thing, but this really is a blow to any confidence TSA is supposed to provide fliers. Stopping the harmful and letting the harmless through (and not fleecing travelers along the way) is job priority number one, a job that TSA seems to fail to do repeatedly.
That said, I for one am glad that none of TSA’s fumbling and stumbling has resulted in any successful penetrations by Al Qaeda or any other terrorist. I just wish TSA could get their act together without the massive cost, personal intrusion, and incompetence.
Israel, with far greater threats, has seemed to figure it out; why can’t TSA?
Image via Wikipedia
What I’m reading right now, continued: William Baude “Signing Unconstitutional Laws” 86 Ind. L. J. (forthcoming 2011).
Recently, I’ve heard a lot of talk, primarily from the Tea Party wing of the political right, about how law makers should not pass into law legislation that is unconstitutional. I know of at least one candidate who made this his main campaign promise and the pillar upon which he removed an 18 year incumbent in the race for one of Utah’s U.S. Senate seats.
With this context, I ran into Baude’s article, referenced in a blog. I won’t say I agree with it, at least not yet, but I do think his thought bear evaluation for public policy‘s sake.
According to Baude, the argument threads a line between those who believe the president should not sign anything that he thinks is remotely unconstitutional, and those who believe that “constitutional principles should give way to pragmatism.” He dismisses both sides, but allows that there are situations, indeed situations where the constitutional duties of the President requires he sign laws that may have unconstitutional provisions:
In a wide range of cases, there is nothing wrong with signing unconstitutional laws. These cases involve constitutional tradeoffs between the President’s duties to prevent unconstitutional laws from taking effect, and his affirmative duties to make good on certain constitutional protections. At the same time, the President must exercise this power responsibly: so he must both have other constitutional duties that justify signing the remainder of the bill into law, and must be prepared to use his other powers to prevent the unconstitutional provisions from being
executed. But there is no categorical duty to veto
However, disregarding unconstitutionality
is not an issue of pragmatism nor has there been sufficient legal framework articulated for a President to do so. Baude’s framework for those situations where the President can, or may, sign legislation with unconstitutional provisions, is founded on two prongs:
- The Presidential oath requires the President to uphold the constitution, and the President has more tools at his disposal to do so than just his veto.
- The President’s obligation to uphold the constitution requires him to help pass laws, “especially in the national security and individual rights context.” Often, a veto is not likely to produce a better proposal, and the president is under some obligation to sign the proposal.