Police Can Demand Your Identification

A sharply-divided Supreme Court has ruled five-to-four that Americans have no constitutional right to keep quiet when police ask for their names.  If someone refuses give his or her identity, that person can be arrested.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said a person's identity is "insignificant in the scheme of things."

The ruling can speed up detective work in an investigation and make it easier to get information about terrorists.

But privacy rights advocates say the ruling can force people who haven't done anything wrong to give information that can be used in broad data searches. The argument rides on Constitutional issues, that giving your name violates a person's Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches, and the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not to self-incriminate.

"The Fifth Amendment says we have the right to remain silent, and this takes another chip out of the Fifth Amendment by requiring someone to give their name to police," says Cincinnati Attorney, Richard Goldberg.

However, Justice Kennedy says the ruling violates neither, "Obtaining a suspect's name in course of a Terry stop serves important government interests."