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John Gilmore's continuing legal case for freedom of movement within the United States. As Gilmore's media liaison, Bill Scannell, writes:

Lawyers for John Gilmore filed their opposition to a Department of Justice attempt to file a secret brief in a case that involves secret law.

The case, Gilmore vs. Ashcroft, is now before the 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals. DOJ filed a motion last Friday asking the Court's permission to file their arguments in secret, allowing only the judges to read their full brief.

DOJ is trying to distract the Court and the public from the real issue in the case, which is whether or not American citizens can travel in their own country without official government paperwork.

Their method of distraction: secret law.

In a sharply-worded objection to the government's motion, Gilmore's lawyers stated that the government's "extreme cry for secrecy, preventing even plaintiff?s counsel from being privy to their legal arguments because plaintiff?s counsel does not meet defendants; self defined 'covered persons who have a need to know' criteria, is disturbing and illustrates the dangers of secret law."

Details here.

For Reason coverage of the Gilmore case, go here and here.

NEXT: The First Cut Is the Deepest

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  1. Perhaps because if there is a law or rule in place, such requirement is, after sorting through the precedents, a violation of privacy. Rather than risk losing their power, the spooks pretend to be too important to be challenged.

    And a Gilmore win might undermine a collection of government/police techniques?

    A tangent: In the same way a vehicle can be confiscated if a passenger possesses drugs even without knowledge of the driver/owner, could the fuzz seize a jetliner if somebody like Gilmore smuggled some weed on board?

  2. Scatalogicus-

    True, but antagonizing the judge is never a good way to win a case.

  3. There should be no question- they ARE forgeries. Check out my own little experiment:

  4. You know, whatever one might think of Gilmore’s case, I assumed that the court proceedings would go something like this:

    Gilmore says: They demanded that I show ID even though there’s apparently no rule on the books that says I have to, so it was an illegal demand.

    Then the gov’t says one of two possible things:

    Case 1: There is a law on the books right here in fact.

    Gilmore: But that law violates my privacy.

    Judge: The law is reasonable, your case is dismissed.

    (Yes, I know, some people might think it isn’t reasonable, but that’s what would have happened.)

    Case 2: The gov’t says that the rule is actually one the airline came up with.

    Gilmore: But that rule violates my privacy.

    Judge: Well, the airlines own the planes, they can demand ID on their property. Case dismissed.

    Instead, we get some sort of twilight zone bizarro response:

    Case 3: Your honor, we can’t discuss any of this. It’s all a big secret.

    So now the judge is annoyed. Because she can’t dismiss Gilmore’s case if the gov’t won’t respond to it. She’s thinking to herself “Come on, just show me the friggin rule on the books so I can dismiss this case and go home!” But they don’t.

    I have no clue why they can’t simply point to a rule on the books and be done with it. Surely somewhere there must be a piece of legislation or official regulation or something that they can point to. Once they point to it, the judge will undoubtedly rule that it’s a reasonable restriction on Gilmore’s privacy (yes, I know, some here might object, but that’s what will probably happen).

    So why is this taking so damn long?

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