New York City

Judge Strikes Down NYC Transit Rules Requiring ID in Subways

Also affirms right to take photographs without police confrontation

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A federal judge has ruled that a New York City Transit Authority rule requiring people using the city's transit system to carry ID is unconstitutional. The decision is a victory for the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit in November, 2011 defending the public's right to take photographs in the subway system without fear of being arrested or having to show identification to police.

"This decision is a victory for the freedom of people to walk around free from showing their papers, a core American right," said NYCLU Staff Attorney Mariko Hirose. "It's past time for the NYPD to learn about the Constitution and stop harassing and even arresting people for exercising their basic rights."

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of Steve Barry and Michael Burkhart, railroad enthusiasts and photographers who were unlawfully arrested in August 2010 while taking photos of subway trains at the Broad Channel subway stop in Queens. At the time, they were awaiting the arrival of a vintage subway train on display by the New York Transit Museum. They both were charged with unlawful photography, and Barry was handcuffed and charged with failing to produce ID in violation of a Transit Authority rule.

(Hat tip to Trevor Timm)