May I See Your Papers, Please?

John Gilmore’s fight against airline ID requirements is gaining momentum. He has been joined by the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center in challenging the requirement that passengers identify themselves with government documents before being permitted to travel.

Though his case is a long shot, it raises some important questions.

    Gilmore is claiming that the airlines’ often contradictory demands for ID before they let you fly—connected to federal mandates that are so secret the Justice Department’s lawyer wouldn’t even tell them to the judge in Gilmore’s original suit—constitute a violation of his right to travel, peaceably assemble, and be free from unwarranted searches and seizures. He further argues, among other things, that the secret directive violates due process and is inherently void due to vagueness.


    His appeal brief provides an impressive array of arguments and past precedent for these assertions, too long to summarize adequately here. One touches on the “no-fly” lists, made recently famous when they snared Teddy Kennedy. As Gilmore’s brief notes, the “true purpose of the ID requirement is to allow airline security to determine whether the passenger is among those individuals known…or suspected of posing…a threat… [It] is designed to check whether a person is on a government created list of suspects… A No-Fly rule directed at a specific group of people is equivalent to a bill of attainder unless with each person there is an associated judicial warrant or conviction. Yet judicial involvement in maintaining the lists is highly unlikely…”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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