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The Courts Government News

Gilmore Loses Airport ID Case 521

smooth wombat writes "In the final conclusion to John Gilmore's fight to be able to fly on an airplane without providing identification, the United States Supreme Court, without comment, let stand an appeals court ruling which said that Gilmore's rights are not violated by being required to show proof of identity. Gilmore had argued that without being able to see the law which says one must provide identification before being allowed to board a plane, there is no way to know if the regulations call for impermissible searches."
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Gilmore Loses Airport ID Case

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  • national security (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MyNymWasTaken ( 879908 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:50PM (#17511688)
    "So sorry. We can't show you that piece of legislation. It's a matter of national security."
  • by AdmNaismith ( 937672 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:03PM (#17511890)
    Private companies are allowed to d*ck the public around like this all they want. I go into office buildings all over Los Angeles for my job, and none of them will let you in without at least looking at a Driver's License. Sometimes they hold it (unsecurely) if you are from an outside delivery or repair service. I asked LAPD and they said there is nothing to prevent private companies from doing this and they, as law enforcement, will do nothing to intercede. In the end, there is no law about this either way, but you can be prevented from access to private property (and an airplane likely qualifies) if the owner wants to see or hold your ID.
  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:28PM (#17512254) Homepage Journal

    If they actually wanted to solve this problem, they should have:

    • Armored and completely isolated - audio, video, access - the cockpits on commercial aircraft (requires new and separate external entry doors for the pilots)
    • Armored the skins and ports of commercial aircraft against small arms
    • Issued small arms to any adult passenger that didn't have same at boarding

    No hijacking can succeed in such a situation. You can't get at the pilots, and the pilots have no way of knowing what is going on in the cabin behind them, so you can't directly control the aircraft; you can't threaten the entire set of passengers at once, and consequently, someone will pop you before you can say in'shallah.

    This also has the additional benefit of demonstrating the inherent value of the 2nd amendment. Because this would actually work, it would relieve the feds of the apparent need they have created to screw with legitimate citizens going about their normal activities. No fly lists; searches; long lines and delays; etc.

    This doesn't solve straight up bombings, or at least, probably not most of them, but neither does anything else. Any intelligent and technical person could get a bomb onto an aircraft; it's just that intelligent and technical people generally won't pursue such stupidities. Anyway, exploding a bomb on an aircraft isn't something you can leverage into causing the kind of damage you can by using the aircraft itself as an aimed kinetic energy weapon.

  • by Tuidjy ( 321055 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:31PM (#17512288)

    I've been asked to leave my driving license as security for using a pool table. It reminded me that in Bulgaria, when I was growing up, leaving one's passport as security was an offense punishable by jail for both the owner of the passport and the one holding it.

    As far as I am concerned, this is a convenience. Most people would prefer leaving their license rather than a cash deposit. I hate leaving my license, so I always offer to leave cash. The only time it has not worked is when I tried to rent a powerboat from a place no one knew me. I am sure that a cash deposit would have worked there as well, if I'd had 10k.

    When I fly, I have to show ID. I know this does not stop determined terrorists, but if that's what takes to make even one old lady feel safer, what is the harm? If I had a reason to fly anonymously, sure, I'd mind. But even if the only reason they check ID is to prevent you from transferring a discount ticket, it's their right. It may be baggage from growing up in a Communist country, but I am more wary of laws that tell a private business what it can do than of businesses that impose stupid requirements. Your milleage may, of course, vary.

  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:07PM (#17512880)
    I know that /. is the place to turn to for legal advice, so I'll shoot.

    Can someone sign a contract which says that the signatory party forfeits the right of knowing the terms which under some terms of another contract applies to him? Even if the government wants you to sign?

    Because, as far as I see, this is the Gilmore case about. I know that traveling by air is generally not thought of as a contract, but it is one, called providing a service. Normally, when you want to use a private company's service, you get to know the terms. "You get this phone now for free, but only if you sign up for 2 years with our company" or "buy two and save 30%!". The fact is, Gilmore only wanted to know the terms: "so I'm only allowed to fly if I show my id? Then point me to the AUP" - paraphrased. Then the private company sends Gilmore to hell and throws him out of the building.

    They are entirely within their rights to do that, they are a private business after all under no obligation to serve a customer or tell him anything, but as every private company knows, they make money from customers, so they don't generally do this.

    The problem is that the private company didn't say this, but that they were following secret rules issued by the Transportation Security Administration, which is a government entity. The problem with this is, that when a private company makes rules, its called terms of employment, company policy or such, but when the goverment makes rules, it's called law or regulation. There is a tricky thing with laws, that ignorance of them does not nullify their force. It works the other way around though too: it is not a law which you can't know. A regulation is basically the same, it doesn't apply to you when you can't know about it. A job at a company works the same way, you get to know the terms of employment and for example they can't fire you for arbitary made up reasons, because that would be a breach of contract if the terms of employment doesn't include that. As far as I know, no private company or government has the power to add arbritary sections to a contract.

    So, if a private company does things, you can just never use them again. When the government makes rules, you cannot escape them, you are bound by them - only if you know about them.

    I'd add that it doesn't matter what the given regulation is. The regulation could have been that you have to look into a camera or raise your left arm or anything. It doesn't matter because it has nothing to do with the case. The case is about whether you need to comply with rules, regulations, laws, call them whatever to wish, whose existence is only indicated by taking someone's word for it and reading the actually law/regulation is forbidden. I believe that is in violation of your country's constitution.

    I think there is a loophole which might be an argument to get around my chain of reasoning. "But this regulation is only a routing order, it only tells the airline employee, who clearly can know about the regulation, what to do with the guy. If he doesn't have an ID, the employee directs the passenger towards the longer security check". The problem with that argument is that then the passenger shouldn't even know about this internal requirement, instead of a public notice that the government mandates the ID check and that you can't fly without it. Secondly, which is more serious, if the passanger asks about the different treatment and the rationale behind it, the answer that it is an internal governmental regulation that forces the employee to perform a more thorough security check is only grounds for just that, the employee performing a more thorough check, not grounds for denying the passenger a chance to fly altogether, because that would be the government making a secret regulation which a passenger would need to adhere to in order to fly. If the government wants ID checks, fine. Make a law or public regulation about it. Until then, the government restricts their citizens illegally from performing the legal activity of flight by air, which public usage conditions they satisfied.

    So I'll ask once again. Do you think that the government is free to break the rules layed down by the constitution or law?
  • by AndersOSU ( 873247 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:38PM (#17513392)
    I actually have experienced how easy it is to fly without ID. Not on purpose, but as a result of poor planning. My girlfriend and I were planning a flight from BWI (Baltimore,) which is a bit over an hour from my apartment, to CLE (Cleveland.) When we arrived at the airport she realized that she didn't have her ID with her. At the time I knew about this case and said we should see if we can get on the plane, rather than driving back to pick up ID and miss the plane for sure.

    Unsurprisingly, it didn't work out. Somewhat surprisingly the problem wasn't with TSA, it was with Continental. Basically since I purchased the tickets originally and we didn't have any checked luggage I checked in at one of the kiosks, and got both of our tickets. We went to security, and I asked a very nice TSA supervisor if my girlfriend could pass through security as a "selectee" without showing ID, he said she could, but that the airline would have to reissue the ticket for her to show up as a selectee (still not sure why that is though), the supervisor even walked us back to the Continental ticket counter and explained the situation. The lady working the counter was an idiot. Now, I know that people working with customers have shitty jobs and constantly have to deal with irate people, believe me when I say we were being as polite and reasonable as possible. The lady was an idiot. When she eventually understood what we needed done, and after the TSA guy explained about six times that it was possible she decided she needed a supervisor. A supervisor was unfortunately unavailable - for 45 minutes... By the time it looked like we might be getting things sorted out the flight had left (and on time to boot.)

    It was important that my girlfriend get to CLE, so she ended up buying a last minute one way ticket from Southwest (I think) for some exorbitant amount of money. She told them up front she didn't have ID on her and there were no problems what so ever, aside to having to submit to the reasonable pat-down search. Getting Continental to leave the return leg of her itinerary open was also an experience, I had to convince the same idiot woman at continental that whether or not my girlfriend has ID in three days and half way across the country wasn't really her problem, and that I had already paid for the return trip, and that it must be possible to fly after all without ID since she was through security while we were talking.

    Anyhow, when she did end up returning (on continental) the people and the CLE ticket counter knew what to do, and once again she got on a plane only having to submit to the pat-down search.

    I wrote Continental and (eventually) got a call back from someone in corporate relations or something, and talked the woman into issuing me a $200 credit. It didn't cover my costs, but in the end it was partially our fault for not being prepared, and for arriving a bit too close to departure time for comfort.
  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:17PM (#17514108)
    Through all the discussions of terrorists, guns and whether or not showing ID accomplishes anything, everyone has missed the most important issue here.

    Throughout this case, Gilmore has repeatedly said "Show me the law that says ID is required". And the government has refused, on the grounds of "security". This is beyond absurd. Secret laws have no place in a free society.

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @06:03PM (#17514944) Homepage Journal
    You're worried about loss of property when they review your political leanings []?
  • by packeteer ( 566398 ) <> on Monday January 08, 2007 @06:27PM (#17515386)
    But he did make it harder to buy fertiizer.

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