The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

1 September 2002

Identity cards, and a joker

In The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes says that those weird ACLU types and those pesky libertarians have stalled enough; it's time for a national ID card, in the name of, you guessed it, "national security".

There are plenty of reasons to take issue with this premise. We've already lost a measure of privacy, what with various licenses, credit records, medical records and whatnot, so what's a little more? Besides, says Barnes blithely, "the Constitution has never recognized a right to anonymity." If it's not stated in bald type, it does not exist? Has Mr Barnes read the 10th Amendment lately?

Meanwhile, Quana Jones has further complaints:

"Think about all the powermad bladderheads in airport security. You know what Iím talking about. Any idiot in a uniform will feel compelled to demand identification."

And still further:

"Exactly how will knowing a person's name and identity make us safer? Murderous homicide bombers don't intend to go home."

Mr Barnes calls objections of this sort "essentially frivolous". Of course he does. If he didn't, he'd have to take them seriously, and then all he'd have left of his argument would be "The government will protect us." How very, very September 10th of him.

Posted at 1:12 PM to Political Science Fiction


says Barnes blithely, "the Constitution has never recognized a right to anonymity."

that's just plain wrong. There was a case within the last 10 years, wherein a pamphleteer was leaving anonymous leaflets. The target of the leaflets tried to use an election law that required leaflets to indentify who publishes them. The election law was found invalid. The court cited Revolutionary Era pamphleteering by the likes of "Cicero" and "Federal Farmer" and so forth, saying there's a long tradition of anonymous/pseudonymous political discourse, at least. Whether that is germaine to identification papers is another matter, but perhaps it's the seed of an "identification and travel jurisprudence."

I regret that I can't give you a cite at the moment.

Posted by: Fuze at 4:26 AM on 2 September 2002

It's a start, and from starts we get precedents.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:19 AM on 3 September 2002