Stu News and Photos

My name is Stu and I am here to share what I can.

My brother pointed me to a new policy being implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (here's his post). Very soon, they will require that, if you fly, your government-issued identification needs to display a name that matches exactly the name printed on your airline ticket. The specific language from the TSA reads:

    Boarding passes may not always display the exact name you provided when booking your travel. The name you provide when booking your travel is used to perform the watch list matching before a boarding pass is ever issued, so small differences should not impact your travel. Secure Flight is a behind-the-scenes process that TSA and airlines collaborate on to compare the information you provide against government watch lists. The additional data elements that you may be asked to provide, such as date of birth and gender, serve to better differentiate you from individuals on the government watch list.

    You should ensure that the name provided when booking your travel matches the government ID that you will use when traveling. However, TSA has built some flexibility into the processes regarding passenger name accuracy. For the near future, small differences between the passenger's ID and the passenger's reservation information, such as the use of a middle initial instead of a full middle name or no middle name/initial at all, should not cause a problem for the passenger. Over time, passengers should strive to obtain consistency between the name on their ID and their travel information.


First, wow, consider for a moment what your government is doing. I'm sure you're familiar with all of this, but take another pass at these thoughts: There's a watch list. The government, your government, is collecting your personal information (middle name, flight information, date of birth, gender, etc.) and using it to keep tabs on your whereabouts. They are surveilling you without judicial oversight.

Second, they are requiring identification when you, a citizen of the United States of America, travel from one state to another using public airlines.

I'm a staunch supporter of the rights given to me by the Constitution of the United States. I believe that until legislation by Congress overturns any right guaranteed me in the Constitution or until the Supreme Court overturns any Constitutional guarantee, I get to stand behind that document, with the full knowledge that it is the last word on my personal freedoms.

With regard to travel within the United States, the Constitution provides a pretty clear right of travel. While not explicitly stated, my right to travel without identification or investigation is guaranteed in several sections of the Constitution.

First, take a look at the Privileges and Immunities Clause in Article IV, which states, "The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States." - In other words, if I don't need identification to travel within the borders of the state of Nebraska, if I cross the border into Kansas, I do not need identification, as the Nebraska privilege applies in Kansas. This means that if I am riding a bike and I cross the border, if there is no probable cause, the Kansas police cannot stop me and demand identification because I traveled from Nebraska. Article IV's Privileges and Immunities Clause guarantees me safe passage, with full protection from federal government interference.

So if I take a plane instead of a bike, the rule still covers me. I am a citizen and the Constitution defends me against the need for any papers identifying who I am (assuming a lack of probable cause).

And if Article IV isn't enough, I am further protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Section 1 states: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

This clearly makes the request/demand for identification when traveling by plane (within the United States) unconstitutional. If I am acting in a manner that is, within a reasonable doubt, perceived as lawful, the 14th Amendment protects me, as it grants me immunity as a citizen of the United States.

And if anyone questions my conclusion stated here, I respectfully point them to the 1966 US Supreme Court decision in United States v. Guest. The Court, debating the rights of African-Americans traveling between states, held, in part, "As construed to protect Fourteenth Amendment rights § 241 is not unconstitutionally vague, since, by virtue of its being a conspiracy statute it operates only against an offender acting with specific intent to infringe the right in question (Screws v. United States, 325 U. S. 91) and the right to equal use of public facilities described in the indictment has been made definite by decisions of this Court"

This language makes it clear - if I am not acting in an unlawful manner or suspected of acting in an unlawful manner, I retain the right to equal use of public facilities. Airlines are public facilities. I get to fly without identification (from state to state).

Our government, despite all of the above, requests identification from those lawful citizens traveling from one state to another via an airplane. Most folks provide their i.d., but a few haven't, and litigation has followed. One such example is John Gilmore, who refused to identify himself when attempting to fly to Washington, DC in July of 2002. He stood his ground, requesting that the TSA agents provide him proof of any law that required his identification in order to lawfully travel within the U.S. It turned into a scene (as this was not too long after 9/11 and the US government was clamping down hard, in the name of security, under the guise of protecting the citizenry. Eventually Mr. Gilmore sued the Attorney General of the United States (John Ashcroft). The case was heard in US District Court, where the case was found in favor of the plaintiff. The language that bears focus is the concluding finding: "In regards to the right to travel issue which counsel argues they should not be liable for, again, this goes right back to the secret law issue, as to whether or not they have the right to demand id or not. We do not know what that law is because it's not been published. The government has stated, as we mentioned in our addendum that the airlines are not mandated to demand, merely request it."

I plead with my fellow Americans to never give our government license to arbitrarily overturn or ignore the Constitution, under any circumstance. Each of us, individually and collectively, deserve full protection under the law, for the law is what protects us from the government.

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." —Benjamin Franklin

6 Comments:

Allen said...

RIGHT ON!!!!

David said...

Very thoughtful commentary, Stu. The one thing to consider is that they made this change in response to problems that came up with the no-fly list. This will make it less likely that someone with the same name as someone on the no-fly is prevented from making their flight. Not my opinion, just interpreting what I read on the TSA site.

-- Dave

Stu said...

Dave,

My commentary wasn't a response to the change in the No Fly list, it was a response to the No Fly's existence. Look at it this way - We're allowed to buy over-the-counter pain medication without restriction. Someone starts putting poison in Tylenol. The reasonable, lawful response is to find out who is doing it and stop them, not to create a secret law that forces everyone to go through poison detectors on the way into the supermarket.

The adjustment to the No Fly rule makes sense, but it's a remedy to a problem that shouldn't exist. It's as if the US began to inter Japanese during WWII and then, two months later, changed the policy so that only Japanese non-citizens would be interred.

We need to stop the entire No Fly program. We need to petition the government to force the airlines from requesting id. If there are bad people out there doing bad things, we need to improve the bad people detection system within the confines of the law. We can't allow the government to bend the law at their will.

Ericka said...

very thoughtful post, stu.

but, we're not allowed to buy all over the counter pain medication without restriction - try buying sudifed. the fear of meth labs means that your license is required there too.

Melissa said...

I had this almost bite me a few months back. I didn't change my name when I got married, and when we booked a trip through a travel agent, she booked my airfare using my married "working title". That meant my ID didn't match the airline tickets.

It was a huge deal, but the travel agent did manage to change the name to a hyphenated version so it did have my actual last name on it, along with my husbands. It was through the graces of the TSB agents that I was able to travel with my family.

It ticked me the heck off, because I felt like I had to beg to fly in my country. The laws that might have stopped me from going on vacation aren't going to stop the "bad guys" they are just going to stop a Mom from traveling with her husband and children.

Plus, I have seen first hand how badly the government tracks databases. I doubt that one of this magnitude is going to be tracked smoothy. Too much human error in names (spelling, hyphenation, middle name, initials, assumed names over given names, etc). it's just going to make traveling MORE of a pain in the you know what.

Suldog said...

Perfectly reasoned, Stu. I mean, I agree with it, so it must be!

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