People questioned by police must disclose their names if asked, a closely divided Supreme Court ruled today. The Associated Press said the 5-4 decision was a defeat for privacy advocates who argued that the government should not be able to force people who have done nothing wrong to disclose personal information. Police had argued that identification requests are a routine part of detective work, including efforts to get information about terrorists.
The court upheld the conviction of Larry “Dudley” Hiibel, a Nevada cattle rancher who was arrested after he told a deputy that he didn’t have to reveal his name or show an ID during an encounter on a rural road. He was fined $250 and lost an appeal in the Nevada Supreme Court. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, for the majority, said that “obtaining a suspect’s name in the course of a [police] stop serves important government interests.” Dissenter John Paul Stevens said Hiibel “acted well within his rights when he opted to stand mute.”