No National ID

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Once
upon a time I was in a public park shortly after dark with my then
girlfriend and now wife. The park, as it turned out, was closed
at that time of day. The officer who informed us of this fact requested
to see our identification, which my wife did not happen to have
with her. We were duly informed that it is required that one carry
identification at all times, as my blond and blue-eyed wife could
have been an illegal immigrant from, um, er, well, Canada maybe.

This
incident with the police officer illustrates, in a way which my
wife and I found amusing, how a measure implemented in good-faith
can have repercussions against innocent people. Imagine this same
scenario if we become required to have a national identification
card as part of the crackdown by the new Office of Homeland Security.
Just for kicks, let's assume our policeman friend is going through
a bitter divorce, earlier in the day spilled hot coffee on himself,
and is generally in a bad mood. Perhaps this time my wife's failure
to carry proper identification results in handcuffs and a trip to
the city jail. Somehow it's not so funny anymore.

A
national identification card, much like random roadblocks to check
for seatbelt violations and drugs and other u2018Suspect every Citizen'
programs, would be a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of
the Constitution. It states that "The right of the people to
be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."
If one must produce an identification card upon demand without demonstrable
reason for suspicion, then one's right to be secure in one's person
is conditional. If this condition can be imposed, additional conditions,
such as curfews, or the requiring of permits, can be put in place
as well. You'll then have the u2018right' to go where you please so
long as you obey the hours of travel rules and have the proper documents,
paying the proper fees of course, and have them in order for every
checkpoint along the way.

Now
some people may consider me an alarmist and claim that the scenario
I describe would never happen. Maybe they're right. Of course, Franklin
Roosevelt promised Social Security funds would never be touched
for anything else. Woodrow Wilson promised to keep us out of war.
Gov. Roy Turner promised the state of Oklahoma that our turnpikes
would become free roads when the bonds used to fund them were paid.
The elder George Bush promised no new taxes. But still, maybe you
should trust government not to unnecessarily impede your right to
go where you choose. Just don't forget your papers.

September
28, 2001

Christopher
Powell (send him mail)
is Vice-Chairman of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party. He lives in
Bethany with his wife and two children.

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