Apr 17 2013

Federal court voids New York subway “ID rule”

In a case touching on several issues of concern for us here at the Identity Project, a Federal magistrate has struck down the N.Y. Transit Authority’s “ID rule” as unconstitutionally vague.

This was the right decision in the case, and it was issued on the right basis. And it articulates the sort of analysis and judgment that courts ought to apply to a range of other ID and related rules applicable to travelers, including in particular the TSA’s regulations requiring us to submit to “screening” as a condition of travel, without any definition of what constitutes “screening”.

Barry v. City of New York, et al. began with a complaint that focused on the right to take photographs and to be in public (in public areas of the New York City subway system) without identifying documents:

This is a civil rights action to vindicate the rights of the plaintiffs and of the public to take
photographs in the New York City subway system without fear of arrest and to be in public without identification documents.

But the case was decided neither on the basis of the right to take photographs nor the right not to carry or produce ID credentials — although those rights were implicated, and helped establish the applicable standard for vagueness — but on the basis of the vagueness of the underlying rule.

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