Confronting Secret Law

The U.S. Supreme Court should reject the idea of a secret law or directive that purports to regulate public behavior yet cannot be disclosed, several public interest groups argued yesterday.

The groups filed amicus curiae briefs in support of a petition by John Gilmore, who challenged a government requirement that he produce official identification in order to board an airplane and was told that he could not see the underlying policy document because it is “sensitive security information.”

The government says (pdf) that Mr. Gilmore had adequate notice of the ID requirement without inspecting the written policy.

But “The laws of the United States do not permit the Executive Branch to govern public conduct through secret laws,” wrote Marcia Hofmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the Court should therefore agree to review the Gilmore matter. The FAS Project on Government Secrecy signed on to the EFF brief (pdf).

Other amicus briefs were filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The latest briefs, and other background on the case, can be found here.

See also “Groups ask high court to review aviation ID policies,” by Andrew Noyes, National Journal’s Technology Daily, November 14.

Secrecy News will resume publication after Thanksgiving.

Update: There’s more on the story here.

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