ACLU Defends Colorado Bus Rider Arrested by Homeland Security for Not Showing ID

Affiliate: ACLU of Colorado
November 23, 2005 12:00 am

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November 23, 2005

50-Year-Old Mother of U.S. Soldier Stationed in Iraq Faces Criminal Charges

DENVER — The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado announced today that its attorneys will defend Deborah Davis, a Denver-area passenger on a public bus who declined to produce identification and was subsequently arrested, handcuffed and removed by Homeland Security officers at the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood. Davis is scheduled to appear in federal district court on December 9 to face criminal charges stemming from her failure to show ID.

“Our client believes that the federal government had no right to demand that she produce identification as a condition of riding to work on a public bus that happens to pass through the Federal Center,” said Gail Johnson, an ACLU cooperating attorney who will defend Davis in court. “She is willing to risk going to jail in order to take a stand as a matter of principle.”

The arrest occurred as Davis was commuting to work on a bus route that crosses through the Federal Center property. When the bus stopped at the entrance, a guard boarded and demanded that each passenger produce a photo ID for inspection. Davis, a 50-year-old mother of four children, one of whom is a U.S. Army soldier fighting in Iraq, has said that she refused to produce ID because she believes the government had no right to demand it. Federal law enforcement authorities held her for two hours, and she later received a formal notice to appear in court.

“We don’t believe that the federal government has the legal authority to put Deborah Davis in jail, or even to make her pay a fine, for declining the government’s request that she produce photo identification,” said Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado. “Ms. Davis was commuting to her workplace and had no intention of exiting the bus at the Federal Center. She was doing nothing wrong, and she was not even suspected of doing anything wrong. Passengers are not required to carry passports or any other identification documents in order to ride to work on a public bus line.”

The national ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project also pointed out that Davis’ experience comes in a context of vigorous efforts to create an American national identity system – in particular through the REAL ID Act, which would require all states to issue electronically readable, federally approved ID cards. The ACLU said such a system threatens to turn America into the kind of place where Davis’ experience becomes routine, and where identity papers are used to monitor and control individual activities of all kinds.

In addition to Johnson, Davis is represented by ACLU cooperating attorney Norman Mueller. Both Mueller and Johnson are with Haddon, Morgan, Mueller, Jordan, Mackey & Foreman, P.C.

More information about Deborah Davis and her case is available on her own Web site at

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