- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Deadly N.Y. train derailment leads to Senate call for cameras at tracks
- WWII vet, 90, en route to Pearl Harbor event booted from flight
- SWAT team at Phoenix hospital as armed man clears emergency room
- Kim Jong-un’s uncle dragged from political meeting, booted from party
- Big storm dumps snow on East Coast, travel dicey
- Thai prime minister dissolves Parliament, calls elections
- Hagel to meet with Pakistan’s prime minister
- Kiev: Riot police deployed near protest sites
- Elton John blasts Russia’s anti-gay laws during Moscow concert
Your papers, please
Next week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case to decide whether or not all Americans must have identification on them at all times. The case has been brought by a cowboy in Nevada who was asked to show ID while he was leaning against his pickup truck on the side of the road near his ranch. The police officer did not offer any specific reason why he demanded proof of identity. Having committed no crime, Dudley Hiibel, the cowboy, refused -- and was arrested. He was later convicted for "Delaying a Peace Officer." In America, still a free country, citizens should not be required to provide identification papers at any whim of the authorities.
In the case at hand, Mr. Hiibel gave the arresting officer a chance to justify his request. But when asked why he demanded identification, the sheriff's deputy said only, "Because I'm investigating." When asked what he was investigating, the policeman responded with a wisecrack: "I'm investigating an investigation." The argument before the U.S. Supreme Court is whether requiring identification at any time is a violation of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures or an invasion of privacy by the government.
In a 4-3 decision, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Hiibel, stating that the Nevada statute requiring identification during a police investigation "strikes a balance between constitutional protections of privacy and the need to protect police officers and the public." The argument is that police cannot rule out whether or not a stranger is a suspect in a crime until he is identified. In the dissent, Justice Deborah Agosti argues that merely knowing an individual's identity does not enhance safety. Regarding the Fourth Amendment, she explains, "Anonymity is encompassed within the expectation of privacy, a civil right." The Fifth Amendment also guarantees the right to remain silent, which can be construed as the right to guard one's identity.
The cowboy-ID case is timely because of the momentum in the federal government to mandate various kinds of national identification cards. Even some conservatives, such as Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, support the idea of so-called Social Security cards with biometric identifiers such as retina scans and electronic fingerprints. The Nevada high court's ruling notes that "the right to wander freely and anonymously, if we so choose, is a fundamental right of privacy in a democratic society." The openness of the prairie symbolizes this freedom. It would be a shame if cowboys were required to carry a driver's license to ride a horse while roaming the open range.
By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- EDITORIAL: Health care hardball
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- South Carolina sheriff refuses to lower American flag for Nelson Mandela
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- FENNO: Mike Shanahan's empty words no salve to free-falling Redskins
- POWELL: The Fed's scandalous monetary policy
- As the unemployed wait, lawmakers debate about extended benefits
- Sen. Rand Paul: Supreme Court needs to re-examine Fourth Amendment
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Al Maurer provides a common sense, conservatarian, Constitutional conservative perspective from the battleground state of Colorado
Film Reviews and Articles by Kevin Williams
"Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you're thinking in order to make your thinking better." - Dr. Richard Paul
Let it snow
White House pets gone wild!