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Papers, please


A police officer does not have the authority to arrest someone for refusing to identify himself when he is not suspected of committing a crime, a federal appeals panel ruled Friday.

Someone tell Dudley Hiibel and the Supreme Court.

6 Responses to “Papers, please”

  1. jed Says:

    That Lawreader article says, “the federal court panel referenced a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court ruling”. Well, what other relevant 2004 SCOTUS ruling is there, other than Hiibel? (June 21, 2004) I don’t find the exact quote cited by Lawreader in the Hiibel ruling — maybe he’s quoting the Circuit paraphrasing Hiibel. Maybe after more coffee, I’ll reread Hiibel, or perhaps better, Volokh on Hiibel. I’m not sure there’s a conflict here, due to differing circumstances.

  2. nk Says:

    I dunno, Uncle, sometimes you have to be pragmatic about these things:

    An Englishman, a Frenchman and a Russian once shared their opinions on what was happiness.

    ‘I test happiness,’ said the Englishman, ‘when in the winter, after good hunting I come back home and with a glass of good brandy, I settle down in an armchair opposite a roaring fire.’

    ‘For me happiness,’ said the Frenchman, ‘is when I’m in a good restaurant eating good food and drinking good wine in the company of a fine woman, and then – a night of passion.’

    ‘How you understand happiness!’ exclaims the Russian. ‘For me happiness is when, after a wearisome workday, I come into my room in my communal home, where I live together with my wife, my two children and the mother-in-law, and during the night there is a loud knock at the door, and I open it, and on the threshold are two threatening looking creatures standing there and ask me “Are you citizen Paramonov?” and I answer them: “He’s not here, Paramonov lives a floor above!” Now there is true happiness!’

  3. jed Says:

    I posted a longer response, but as far as tension between the 8th Circuit and Hiibel, referring to Eugene Volokh, I think I can see a difference between the cases. Sez the professor:

    Once the police stop a person based on reasonable suspicion that he may be involved in criminal activity, may the police demand that he identify himself (backed by the threat of legal punishment should he refuse, or should he lie)?

    The Court’s answer: “yes,” at least so long as (A) the demand is “reasonably related to the circumstances justifying the stop” (which will almost always be so)

    So can I conclude that being a passenger during a traffic stop is too far away from being “reasonably related”? Hiibel was, IIRC, at least potentially under suspicion, based on a citizen report of domestic violence.

    Mind you, I’m not arguing that what the police did in the case of Hiibel was justified, just trying to understand how the Circuit could rule that way, in the light of Hiibel.

  4. Sigivald Says:

    Hiibel was convicted because the State of Nevada passed a law saying you had to identify yourself on request.

    Not because there is some general requirement that you show ID to police on demand; the law Hiibel was convicted under has no relation to this latest ruling – he wasn’t charged with “obstruction”, as the man in this case was, and the man in this case was not in violation of a state statute.

    (And Hiibel was arrested and convicted not for “not having ID”, but for refusing to even state his name.

    But the author of the majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, made it clear that he regarded the disclosure of one’s name, the only piece of information the Nevada law specifically requires, as a modest intrusion on privacy.” – note “disclosure of one’s name”, not “possession of a state-issued ID card”.

    Attempts to characterise this with a reference to the overweening authoritarianism of Fascist dictatorship are strained, no?)

    (I’m also not arguing that the Nevada law is “good”; but it also doesn’t seem to be blatantly unconstitutional, I’m not at all convinced that the Founders would have thought it oppressive, and in any case it’s unrelated to a requirement to carry “papers”, let alone an internal passport as implied by “Papers, please”.

    I may be overreacting, but I’ve heard too many people say “the Hiibel case means you have to carry ID or the man will send you to jail”, and I can’t help but correct that every time I see it.)

  5. straightarrow Says:

    Sig, one thing you didn’t mention is Hiibel only refused to identify himself when the cops refused to tel him why he was stopped.

  6. Cactus Jack Says:

    straightarrow Says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 11:39 pm
    Sig, one thing you didnít mention is Hiibel only refused to identify himself when the cops refused to tel him why he was stopped.

    Aint the police required to tell you why they stopped you?