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Supreme Court: Police have a Right to stop anyone for no reason at all,
Demand their name and Jail them if they refuse to comply
The case of Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court
of the state of Nevada, 03-5554
DOJgov.net Newswire, June 21, 2004
Justice Anthony M.
Kennedy wrote for the majority. They rejected the logic that the right to
simple privacy is a fundamental primary pillar that separates a democracy
from a police state.
Justice John Paul Stevens said requiring people
to divulge their name still goes too far. "A name can provide the key to a
broad array of information about the person, particularly in the hands of a
police officer with access to a range of law enforcement databases," he
wrote in a dissent. Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and
Stephen Breyer also disagreed with the ruling.
Others, including Michael G. Leventhal, editor
of www.DOJgov.net feel that we are well
on the way to transforming police into more of a Gestapo or KGB. "A
them over us attitude is not what our Founding Fathers wanted between
government employees and a free citizenry. Indicting the average
citizen as a potential terrorist has always been the ploy of a well run
But Tim Lynch, an attorney with the libertarian-oriented think tank Cato Institute, said the court "ruled that the government can turn a person's silence into a criminal offense."
"Ordinary Americans will be hopelessly confused about when they can assert their right to remain silent without being jailed like Mr. Hiibel," said Lynch, who expects the ruling will lead more cities and states, and possibly Congress, to consider laws like the one in Nevada.
Justices had been told that at least 20 states have similar laws to the Nevada statute: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin. It was this that they now used to validate making such a deep intrusion into personal liberty, the law of the land.
The ruling was a follow up to a 1968 decision that said police may briefly detain someone on reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, without the stronger standard of probable cause, to get more information. Justices said that during such brief detentions, known as Terry stops after the 1968 ruling, people must answer questions about their identities.
Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said America is different 36 years after the Terry decision. "In a modern era, when the police get your identification, they are getting an extraordinary look at your private life."
The case of Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the state of Nevada, 03-5554
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Commentary, Author's Notes and DOJgov.net newswire articles Copyright © by: Michael G. Leventhal
Copyright 2004 Reproduction with written permission. Contact: Michael @DOJGov.net
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