It’s a sad day for personal liberty here in the USA. News.com reports that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against John Gilmore, who was fighting the secret government regulation that the airlines claim requires US citizens to show photo ID cards in order to board domestic flights.
The court apparently believed that the ID requirement is not unconstitutional because the Constitution does not guarantee the right to travel by any particular form of tranportation. This is entirely irrelevant. The Constitution is a limit on the powers of government, not a grant of rights to the people. None of the powers of government enumerated in the Constitution or Amendments give the government the power to restrict US citizens from traveling within the United States by any means they desire. In particular, the government cannot require a passport for domestic travel, yet that is what this requirement does.
Furthermore, the Constitution does not give the government the power to enact and enforce secret laws or regulations. The very concept is anathema to the Rule of Law. If the government did have any legitimate power to compel domestic travellers to present identification, it could only exercise that power by publishing laws or regulations that are subject to public scrutiny and judicial oversight.
I very much hope that Mr. Gilmore will appeal this ruling.
“Free movement by the citizen is of course as dangerous to a tyrant as free expression of ideas or the right of assembly and it is therefore controlled in most countries in the interests of security. That is why riding boxcars carries extreme penalties in Communist lands. That is why the ticketing of people and the use of identification papers are routine matters under totalitarian regimes, yet abhorrent in the United States.”
Aptheker v. Secretary of State, 378 U.S. 500, 519 (1964) (Douglas, J, concurring)