John Ashcroft: Your papers, please!!!
John Gilmore: Uh, like, I only got a pipe, man...
John Gilmore, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is suing US Attorney General John Ashcroft for Ashcroft's unwritten but enforced law that says an airline can't sell you a ticket without identification.
From the legal filing:
On July 4, 2002, Plaintiff tried to fly to Washington, DC to petition the government for redress of grievances and to associate with others for that purpose. He was stopped because he refused to identify himself before boarding the flight. Photo of John Ashcroft, hosted on Google's servers
When he asked the airline officials why, they told him the government required that the airlines ask for ID, but they could point him to no law or regulation to support their demand. That is because no such regulation has been published. For the first time in this Nation's history, the US government is using secret regulations to restrict First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.
Plaintiff contends that any regulation that limits his ability to travel anonymously within the United States is unconstitutional. Similarly, any regulation that impacts his ability to associate and petition for redress anonymously is unconstitutional. Any regulation that requires that he be subjected to a more intrusive search than other travelers - based solely upon his request for anonymity - is unconstitutional.
The unconstitutionality is compounded because the law is secret. Despite the secret nature of the law, plaintiff has been informed and believes that the airlines have been mandated by the federal government to inform air travelers that the law requires them to show identification - a statement which is not true.
Another aspect of this secret law is that when faced with air travelers without ID who insist on their right to travel anonymously, the federal government has instructed the airlines to either refuse to allow said traveler to board the airplane, or to label the traveler as a "selectee" and to conduct a more intrusive search.
Plaintiff objects to any requirement that he produce any government-issued document, whether it contains his identity or not, as a precondition of exercising his constitutional right to live or travel within the United States. Such "internal passports" are anathema to a free society.
Gilmore is quoted by Reason Online as saying "I want to avoid, 'May I see your papers, comrade?'"
Right before Bush appointed him to his Attorney General post, Ashcroft was beaten in his bid to retain his seat as Senator from Missouri by a man who had been dead for a month; the dead man's wife is now Missouri's Senator.
Will Ashcroft's losing streak continue? Tune in next year...
7/19/2002 Springfield Fragfest