Supreme Court to Hear Landmark Privacy Case

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:21pm EDT

( - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in case challenging a Nevada law that requires individuals to identify themselves to police officers.

The Cato Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Dudley Hiibel, a Nevada rancher who was standing by his parked truck smoking a cigarette when a police officer pulled over and demanded to see his identification. When Hiibel declined, he was arrested for "failure to cooperate."

"This case raises profound questions regarding the power of government and the constitutional rights of the citizenry," said Timothy Lynch, director of Cato's Project on Criminal Justice, who co-wrote the amicus brief with attorney Christine Klein.

"Hiibel, like most Americans, believed that he had a right to decline to answer questions posed by police officers. But when Hiibel invoked his 'right to remain silent' he was arrested and taken to jail," Lynch said.

"Everyone knows that the Constitution protects the right of individuals to speak," he said. "With the Hiibel case, the Supreme Court will soon decide whether the government can criminalize citizen silence."

Asked Lynch: "Can it really be a crime for a citizen to quietly decline to answer questions?"

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