Lawyers Journal

Demanding photo ID at federal courthouses violates our civil rights

To the editor:
Federal courthouses should stop demanding photo identification from everyone who enters. The policy is resulting in court security refusing entry to witnesses (even defense witnesses in criminal cases) when their testimony is needed in a hearing. Worse still, the courts are not being informed that witnesses are being turned away at the door. It is a miscarriage of justice, a violation of a party's civil rights and a denial of every defendant's right to due process of law and the right to call witnesses in his/her own behalf.
Some people may even begin using the ID policy as an excuse to avoid coming to court or to testifying. All they have to do is show up without identification and they will be refused entry.
Many people who are summoned to court do not customarily carry ID. Many do not even have ID, photo or otherwise. It is not uncommon for people to lose their ID or for ID to be stolen.
There is no law that requires anyone to carry photo ID, or any ID at all. Thanks to our country's libertarian heritage, there is no law that requires anyone to even have photo ID nor any ID at all, much less to carry it. That is what makes our government not-quite-so-offensive as governments elsewhere.
The ID policy is again playing into the stereotype of the federal government as a growing leviathan, forcing everyone to routinely carry and display identification, and forcing everyone into a police state with a national ID card and the routine command show me your papers!
That's why the Lawyers Association Against Searches was organized, to say no to searches. This letter is written as a pro bono public service to end the unethical courthouse policies. This letter may have been shortened for space, and more info is available at

Rex Curry, attorney

Lawyers Association Against Searches


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