In the United States federal judicial system, a civil lawsuit is initiated with a document called a "complaint". Defendants get notice of a lawsuit by receiving a copy of the complaint, along with a form called a "summons", directing the defendant to file a response.

The sample complaint below follows the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: a uniform set of procedures adopted in the 1930’s. While the Federal Rules do not apply in state courts, many states have adopted some form or version of the Federal Rules.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure encourage a short, plain, concise statement of the allegations, without argument. Evidence need not be presented or cited. This sample complaint is much longer and more detailed than the original ideal. Over the past two decades, judges have used any and every excuse to throw out lawsuits without ever reaching the merits, based on purported defects in the initial complaint. As a result, complaints just get longer and longer every year. While the United States Supreme Court has recently made some efforts to rein in this trend before it gets out of hand, the general trend is one of "raising the bar", and longer and more detailed pleadings. On the plus side, complaints are now more readable to non-lawyers, simply because they contain more facts and tell more of the story.

I have divided a sample complaint into sections with horizontal rules and headers. These do not appear in the original complaint. The original can be obtained at: This an actual complaint, filed in a federal court in California in the case of Gilmore v. Ashcroft, a civil rights case challenging the constitutionality of some of the procedures used to screen airline passengers in the wake the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

As for the merits of the case, the complaint “speaks for itself”, as we lawyers say, and John Gilmore has an FAQ about the case posted at: On E2, see kto9's writeup under Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001.


The heading of every pleading, motion or other legal document pertaining to the case must display the caption of the case. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a caption of the complaint must contain the name of the court, the title of the action, the file number, and the names of all the parties. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10 (a). In subsequent pleadings, it is sufficient to name the first party listed on each side, in this case: “Gilmore v. Ashcroft, et al.”. Details of the layout differ from one court to the next: each United States District has its own set of written “local rules” as well as unwritten stylistic practices. Almost everywhere, however, the names of the parties are confined to the left-hand side of the page, leaving a white space on the right side (for the court clerk’s file stamps).

It used to be the case that legal documents were typed on “pleading paper” (with line numbers on the margin) or formatted with typewriter symbols. Computers make these practices obsolete. My federal district court in New Mexico, for example, allows lawyers to submit documents in .pdf format. The filestamp for electronic filing is a unique, encrypted code generated by the court’s server.

In this case, the Defendants are sued in their “official capacity”. If they leave office, their official successors will be substituted as defendants. Individuals are named, however, because of the nature of relief requested: "declaratory" and "injunctive relief", not money damages: court orders “declaring” whether the rules imposed on airline travel are constitutional, and “enjoining” the enforcement of those rules. Per hoary legal fictions of sovereign immunity, the court orders are addressed to the individuals who run the government, rather than the “sovereign” or its corporate components, such as the Department of Justice.

Preliminary Statement

The “Preliminary Statement” is not required. In my own pleadings, I have tended to use an archaic form of address: “COMES NOW the Plaintiff, John Gilmore, and for his Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief, states:”. This is sufficient for a typical commercial dispute.

In civil rights lawsuits such as this, where the complaint is a press release as well as a legal document, some introductory, general remarks are typical and useful. Other parts of the complaint are not suitable for such remarks, since they are required to be very detailed or formulaic. When trying to figure out what a case is about from the “Statement of Facts” for example, it is difficult to see the forest for the trees. The section entitled “Causes of Action” provides too general a picture, because it states rigid legal formulas according to broadly defined rules.

Statements made in the complaint must be made in numbered paragraphs, to facilitate a response. The responsive pleading, called an “Answer”, must admit or deny each and every numbered paragraph. The legal version of “I don’t know” counts as a denial (to wit: “This defendant lacks sufficient information or belief to affirm or deny the allegations of this paragraph, and therefore denies same.”) This allows the court to know what it is really in dispute. In practice, only really obvious facts are admitted. For example, the defendants might even get away with denying that they know whether John Gilmore lives in California (and thus refuse to admit that venue is proper in California), though this is publicly available information.

Jurisdiction and Venue

Formal allegations of jurisdiction are required in a federal case. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. For example, you cannot take your divorce to federal court. In this case, four jurisdictional statutes are cited:

  1. 5 U.S.C. § 552a (Freedom of Information Act)
  2. 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (Federal Question Jurisdiction)
  3. 28 U.S.C. § 1343 (civil rights jurisdiction)
  4. 28 U.S.C. § 1361 (mandamus jurisdiction)

That is: (1) disputes about FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests are resolved in federal district court. (2) The U.S. district court also has jurisdiction over questions arising under “laws of the United States”. In this context, “laws of the United States” means only federal laws, and does not include state laws (like divorce laws). Similarly, (3) federal courts have jurisdiction over federal civil rights claims. Finally, (4) plaintiff asserts “mandamus” jurisdiction. Section 1361 states:

The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any action in the nature of mandamus to compel an officer or employee of the United States or any agency thereof to perform a duty owed to the plaintiff. 28 U.S.C. § 1361.

Mandamus” is the name of an old writ that began with the Latin word “mandamus” which was used by courts to compel government officials to do their duty. It applies here because Mr. Gilmore is seeking injunctions against federal officials.

Finally, plaintiff asserts venue is proper in the Northern District of California. Jurisdiction applies to the entire judicial system; venue means the choice of a district in a particular location. Plaintiff would probably prefer venue in California where appeals go to the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, whereas the defendants might prefer the District of Columbia. Fortunately for Mr. Gilmore, the venue statute allows him to bring his lawsuit in the district where he resides.


The emphasis in this section is alleging the facts to support venue and jurisdiction, and the capacity in which the defendants are sued. Note that this lawsuit isn’t really about John Ashcroft or any of the individuals named, and the government could not avoid the court order by replacing Ashcroft with a new attorney general. The “defendant” is the office, not the man.

Statement of Facts

This part is pretty self-explanatory. You don’t normally see URLs in a complaint. Citing sources is not required. The complaint doesn’t “prove” anything and has zero value as admissible evidence. On the other hand, reciting as many facts as you can makes it harder for the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

Causes of Action

The facts of the case must be fit into pre-existing legal categories. These categories are supplied by statute or precedential cases. In this instance, only the seventh and last claim is based on a statute (the Freedom of Information Act). The bulk of the claims are based on case law recognizing "rights" under the Constitution.

In a complaint, the Plaintiff need not cite the cases or explain or defend the legal theories in any detail. That is done in "briefs" filed in support or opposition to "motions" later in the case. At this point, it is sufficient to recite Plaintiff's legal conclusions, according to established legal formulas.

The precise contours of those formulas must remain a trade secret. ;-)

Request (or “Prayer”) for Relief

Imagine a crusty old judge in his black robe, sitting up on his throne, asking, "All right, your rights were violated. So what? What do you want me to do about it?"

This section answers that question. This is where you ask for money, if that is what you want. It is, significantly, not what John Gilmore is after here, except incidentally, to pay his expenses if he wins.

Signature Block

Attorneys or parties "pro se" (representing themselves) must sign the complaint, and provide an address and phone number. The signature is also a certification that there are good grounds, both legally and factually, for the complaint. You can be fined for signing off on a frivolous complaint, though it would have to be complete drivel. Still, for an attorney, it means putting your reputation on the line. Lawyers can be barred from practicing in a particular court if they sign off on junk repeatedly.

This is a really fine complaint. I would note that Mr. Gilmore's attorney, William Simpich, was on the winning side in the Judi Bari case.




Case No. C-02-3444 SI




JOHN ASHCROFT, in his official capacity
as Attorney General of the United States,
ROBERT MUELLER, in his official capacity as
Director of the FEDERAL BUREAU OF
NORM MINETA, in his official capacity as
Secretary of Transportation,
JANE F. GARVEY, as Administrator of the
Federal Aviation Administration,
JOHN W. MAGAW, in his official capacity as
chief of the Transportation Security Administration,
TOM RIDGE, as his official capacity as chief of

Preliminary Statement


1. Plaintiff John Gilmore is a United States citizen concerned that the climate of fear that currently pervades American society is eroding long-standing constitutional rights. Today, he files this lawsuit because he believes persons have a right to travel by air without the government requiring that they relinquish their anonymity. No security threat is as important as the threat to American society caused by erosion of the right to travel, the right to be free from unreasonable searches, and the right to exercise First Amendment rights anonymously.

2. On July 4, 2002, Plaintiff tried to fly to Washington, DC to petition the government for redress of grievances and to associate with others for that purpose. He was stopped because he refused to identify himself before boarding the flight.

3. When he asked the airline officials why, they told him the government required that the airlines ask for ID, but they could point him to no law or regulation to support their demand. That is because no such regulation has been published. For the first time in this Nation's history, the US government is using secret regulations to restrict First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.

4. Plaintiff contends that any regulation that limits his ability to travel anonymously within the United States is unconstitutional. Similarly, any regulation that impacts his ability to associate and petition for redress anonymously is unconstitutional. Any regulation that requires that he be subjected to a more intrusive search than other travelers - based solely upon his request for anonymity - is unconstitutional.

5. The unconstitutionality is compounded because the law is secret. Despite the secret nature of the law, plaintiff has been informed and believes that the airlines have been mandated by the federal government to inform air travelers that the law requires them to show identification -- a statement which is not true.

6. Another aspect of this secret law is that when faced with air travelers without ID who insist on their right to travel anonymously, the federal government has instructed the airlines to either refuse to allow said traveler to board the airplane, or to label the traveler as a "selectee" and to conduct a more intrusive search.

7. Plaintiff objects to any requirement that he produce any government-issued document, whether it contains his identity or not, as a precondition of exercising his constitutional right to live or travel within the United States. Such "internal passports" are anathema to a free society.

8. Finally, another result of conditioning the right to travel with forced identification is the government's plan to create huge, integrated databases by mingling criminal histories with credit records, previous travel history and much more, in order to create dossiers on every traveling citizen. Also, Plaintiff has evidence that the government-created "No Fly" watchlist has already begun to morph into a generalized "enemies list". This problem is compounded by the governments' broad definition of "suspected terrorist." As stated on the FBI's web site, "there is no single definition of terrorism."

9. In times of great public fear and outrage it is the duty of the courts to uphold and protect individuals' constitutional rights. For this reason, Plaintiff today asks this court to tell the government that "secret law is an abomination" and will not be tolerated in a free society. Plaintiff asks the court to declare that requesting identification from travelers who are not suspected of being a threat to airport security violates their First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights and must be discontinued.



10. This case arises under the United States Constitution and the laws of the United States, and presents a federal question within this Court's jurisdiction under Article III of the federal Constitution, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552a, and 28 U.S.C. Secs. 1331, 1343, and 1361.

11. The Court has the authority to grant declaratory relief pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2201 et seq.

12. Venue is proper in this district under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1391(e).



13. Plaintiff JOHN GILMORE is a United States citizen who resides in San Francisco, California.

14. Defendant ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT heads the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), which is the agency of the United States government responsible for enforcement of federal criminal laws. The DOJ vetted the secret regulations and found them constitutional. Mr. Ashcroft is sued in his official capacity.

15. Defendant ROBERT MUELLER is the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI maintains a "No Fly watchlist" and transmits this list to the Transportation Security Agency. The airlines are required to check their passenger lists against this No Fly watchlist.

16. Defendant NORM MINETA is the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT is a cabinet-level executive agency of the United States responsible for implementing and administering transportation programs on behalf of the United States government. The DOT houses the FAA and the TSA and is the Agency ultimately responsible for approving all travel security directives.

17. Defendant JANE F. GARVEY, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAA is an independent federal agency that regulates air travel. The FAA has issues secret security directives that require passengers to identify themselves.

18. Defendant JOHN W. MAGAW, Undersecretary of Transportation for Security, is the head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), responsible for transportation security nationwide in all modes. The authority to regulate airport security was transferred to the TSA from the FAA on November 19, 2001, when the TSA was established. The role of the TSA is to implement the provisions of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (P.L. 107-71), signed by President Bush on November 19, 2001.

19. Defendant TOM RIDGE, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, is the head of the Office of Homeland Security (OHS), created on October 8, 2001 to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks. Part of OHS' mission is to "coordinate efforts to protect transportation systems within the United States, including railways, highways, shipping, ports and waterways, and airports and civilian aircraft, from terrorist attack."

20. Defendant UAL CORPORATION is the holding company for United Airlines, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Chicago, Illinois.

21. Defendant SOUTHWEST AIRLINES is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Dallas, Texas.

Statement of Facts


22. Upon information and belief, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have collectively caused the issuance and enforcement of secret transportation security directives requiring that airlines demand travelers reveal their identity before they are permitted to board an airplane.

23. The FAA's stated position on its website as of Friday, June 07, 2002 is that "When checking in for travel, a government-issued ID (federal, state or local) with photograph is required." The TSA's position on its website as of July 2, 2002 is "bring a government-issued photo ID. (If you have photo identification for your children, please bring those as well.)."

Plaintiff's recent experiences in attempting to fly without presentation of ID

24. On July 4, 2002, Plaintiff John Gilmore went to Oakland International Airport with paper tickets, in his own name, to fly to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The purpose of this trip was to petition the government for redress of grievances - specifically, the requirement for airline travelers to provide identification.

25. The Plaintiff presented his tickets at the Southwest check-in line and was issued a boarding pass by the airline clerk. Plaintiff was asked for his identification, and he declined politely. He was informed that he could not fly without identification. Plaintiff continued to decline, and asked whether the demand was based on governmental law or an airline policy. The airline clerk said, "I'm not sure. I think it's an FAA security requirement." Plaintiff asked if there was any way to avoid having to show identification. The clerk told him "Yes, there is. It's not absolutely necessary for travel. If you would rather be screened, you will be screened at the gate when you board the aircraft if you do not wish to show ID." The clerk tore up the boarding pass, printed out another one with a checkerboard pattern on it, and stapled it to the Plaintiff's ticket.

26. Plaintiff went through the x-ray security line at Terminal 2. Plaintiff cleared the security line, and went to Gate 14 at Terminal 1. At the front of the line, Plaintiff encountered Reggie Wauls, an apparent Southwest employee, who asked Plaintiff for his identification. Plaintiff declined politely. Mr. Wauls asked if Plaintiff could show him even a credit card. Plaintiff declined, and asked if the requirement was based on governmental law or airline policy. Mr. Wauls replied that it was a governmental law, and brought into the conversation Cathy Westcott, another apparent Southwest employee. Ms. Westcott informed Plaintiff that he had to show a government-issued picture ID or he could not board the plane. When Plaintiff again declined, she took his ticket to the counter, and another traveler boarded the plane in place of the Plaintiff.

27. Kenneth Wicks, a customer service supervisor, was summoned by these employees. Mr. Wicks had several conversations with the Plaintiff, and stated to him "because you told us you have an ID but you refuse to show it, we did not board you". Plaintiff responded, "Do you mean that if I had left it at home, I could fly?" Mr. Wicks stated, "I didn't say that. It would be a different situation." Plaintiff asked him "Is this a government requirement, or Southwest's?" Mr. Wicks responded, "It's the airline's."

28. Plaintiff then went to the San Francisco airport, and entered the terminal of United Airlines in order to purchase a ticket. While in line at ticket counter 30, Plaintiff saw a metal sign fastened to the front of the desk of airline clerk Pam Pettit. The sign begins "A Notice From the Federal Aviation Administration" and includes the sentence "PASSENGERS MUST PRESENT IDENTIFICATION UPON INITIAL CHECK-IN".

29. Plaintiff told Ms. Pettit that he wanted to purchase a ticket to fly to Washington, D.C.. When she asked for his ID, Plaintiff politely declined. Ms. Pettit informed the Plaintiff that he had to show "federal ID" at the ticket counter, at security, and when boarding. Plaintiff said, "If I don't show ID, I can't fly? Even if I am willing to be searched?" Ms. Pettit said, "That's right. It is an FAA requirement that I ask for ID. Do you have an ID?" Plaintiff responded, "Yes. But it's Independence Day. It's a good time to exercise some freedom." Ms. Pettit responded, "So you have an ID, you just don't want to show it." Plaintiff responded, "Yes." Plaintiff asked if there was any way to fly without an ID. Ms. Pettit said that she needed to call a service director. She talked privately with a Mr. Darquas by phone for a few minutes, and then turned back and said, "You must have an ID. Please step aside so that I can help the next passenger." Plaintiff did so.

30. Plaintiff returned to Ms. Pettit a few minutes later and asked her if she could tell him what actual law or regulation requires ID. United service director Elias Ali emerged a few minutes later and repeated the request for ID. Plaintiff replied, "I have an ID, I just don't want to show it. What is the actual regulation that requires it?" Ali replied, "If you have a ticket on United, you are allowed to travel, but you become selected for secondary screening." Plaintiff replied, "Can I get a copy of the regulation?" Ali left to see if that was possible. Ground security chief Kevin Kane eventually arrived. He said, "You are required to have an ID", but could not identify any government law that required it, and left to "research it". Plaintiff then spoke with James Coleman, another member of United security. Mr. Coleman told the Plaintiff that "if you don't have photo ID, you can have two pieces of non-picture ID, one of which is issued by the government." He also told the Plaintiff that if one had two pieces of non-picture ID, then that person would be a "selectee" and be searched more intensively. He described the search as a "pretty close wanding", plus putting one's bags through a more intense machine than the X-Ray machine. He pointed at a big machine in the terminal behind himself, marked "CBX". (CBX is an explosives detection system)

31. Mr. Kane returned, and corrected his earlier statements. He stated that it is possible to fly without ID, and it involved being a "selectee". This involves an intense search of one's person and one's bags: Going through the magnetometer and being wanded, a light patdown search of one's body, including one's legs. Removal of shoes is required. Bags put through a CAT-scan machine. Then being searched again at the gate, plus having the bag searched by hand. Plaintiff said that this sounded like what Mr. Coleman had described for people who had two pieces of ID but no picture. Mr. Coleman stated that the search was more intense than that.

32. Plaintiff said that he would not agree to having his bag searched by hand. Mr.Kane then said that Plaintiff could not fly without ID. Plaintiff repeated his inquiries about the applicable law or regulation. Mr. Kane replied that he did not know.

33. Later, Mr. Coleman told Plaintiff that there were security directives, but that he could not show them to the Plaintiff. He stated that these directives are from TSA to United. He also stated that these directives are revised as often as weekly, and are transmitted orally rather than in writing. Mr. Coleman also stated that these orally transmitted rules are different in different airports, resulting in varying enforcement and a major training problem, when airline employees are trained in the local procedures in one place and then interact with the public in other locations.

34. Since Plaintiff is unwilling to show ID, and he is equally unwilling to be the subject of a more intrusive search than travelers who do not insist on maintaining their anonymity, he has been unable to fly since September 11, 2001. Plaintiff is also informed and believes and hereby alleges that similar requirements have been placed on travelers who use passenger trains by the government defendants, and that similar requirements are being instituted for interstate bus travel.

Government and airline policy regarding the privacy of travelers

35. All of the government defendants named in this action participate in the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG), an interagency federal group with origins back to the early 1980s, with the mission of conducting a national interagency research and development program to combat terrorism, primarily through rapid research and development and prototyping. The TSWG identifies a requirement, and then tries to field that technological capability as quickly as possible. Plaintiff is informed and believes and hereby alleges that the other government defendants named in this complaint participate in the work of the TSWG, and that the policies being implemented on the Plaintiff in this action is the work of these government defendants.

36. Plaintiff is informed and believes and hereby alleges that the "selectee" criteria originated in the early 1990s program known as "CAPPS"(Consumer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System), which was developed in the early 1990s by Northwest Airlines to spot potential hijackers by examining a limited amount of data. The information gathered included such details as whether a ticket was paid for in cash, whether it was one-way, and how long before the date of departure it was purchased. This system "profiles" people to determine which bags and people are searched more intensively.

37. On September 18, 1996, SD96-05 went into effect, after its issuance during August, 1996. SD96-05 is the most recently known verison of a FAA Security Directive requiring people without ID be selectees, as described in CAPPS. The FAA has refused to make the terms of this security directive public, based on 49 USC 40119(b), which states that the FAA administrator may prescribe regulations as he considers necessary to prohibit disclosure of any information obtained or developed in the conduct of security or research and development activities if (s)he concludes that disclosure would be detrimental to the safety of persons traveling in air transportation.

38. However, plaintiff is informed and believes and hereby alleges that the FAA rule in 1996 was, like now, to require air carriers to request identification in order to match the identity of the traveler with the name on the ticket; to require two pieces of identification, one of which must be from a governmental authority; and that the FAA required air carriers to apply "alternative security measures" prior to boarding travelers with no ID. The FAA had no requirement that a traveler present a photo ID in order to travel, apparently because of the Supreme Court's ruling in Jensen v. Quaring, 472 U.S. 478 (1985), which holds that the government cannot compel a person who has religious objections to be photographed for a driver's license.

39. After September 11, 2001, FAA increased the use of CAPPS to include all travelers. Reliable media sources report that the CAPPS II program will also be applied to all travelers.

40. CAPPS II will not only examine travel booking and payment information but it will also be much more tightly integrated with lists of terrorists and criminals that are kept by global and domestic law-enforcement agencies. In addition, CAPPS II will pull in data from banks, credit-reporting agencies, and other companies that aggregate personal information, including but not limited to Experian, Acxiom(ACXM), and ChoicePoint.

41. The new CAPPS II system will most likely be involved at every step a traveler takes. "A next-generation version would be enabled at all points of traveler processing: booking, ticketing, check-in, security screening, and aircraft boarding," Jim Dullum, managing director of Electronic Data Systems (EDS), testified before a panel of U.S. senators in April.

42. Plaintiff also believes that the government defendants, among others, have created and maintained control over various "watch lists, including an FBI watch list of approximately 180 persons linked to the 9/11/01 terrorists (Guardian, 9/19/01) and a far larger "No Fly" watch list of people believed to be a "threat to civil aviation" as described in the Aviation and Transportation Act signed into law on 11/19/01. Plaintiff objects to the unregulated use of such lists because he believes history teaches that granting the government unlimited control over an "enemies list" will inevitably result in abuse.

43. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the "No Fly" list was created by the FBI and TSA, among others, and has already been used to prevent twenty Milwaukee protesters from attending a D.C. protest in April, 2002 when one of their group allegedly had a name that matched with a name on the list (Progressive, 4/27/02), and to harass citizens such as Johnnie Thomas, a woman who has the misfortune of sharing her name with a man who is in jail for allegedly murdering his wife and children. The Thomas case demonstrates that the "No Fly" list is used for general law enforcement purposes rather than an aviation security purpose.

44. Furthermore, Plaintiff believes that this problem is compounded by an unclear, and thereby easily abused, definition among these defendants of a "terrorist". Although the FBI has its own definition of terrorism, its own website admits that "there is no single definition of terrorism".

45. In the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, the Office of Homeland Security was created on October 8, 2001, for the purpose of developing and coordinating the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks. Part of OHS' mission is to "coordinate efforts to protect transportation systems within the United States, including railways, highways, shipping, ports and waterways, and airports and civilian aircraft, from terrorist attack."

46. On November 19, 2001, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created to implement the provisions of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (P.L. 107-71), signed by President Bush on November 19, 2001. The law states that "if the undersecretary determines that a regulation or security directive must be issued immediately in order to protect transportation security, the undersecretary shall issue the regulation or security directive without providing notice or an opportunity for comment and without prior approval of the secretary." Usually, government regulations are subject to review by career civil servants, agency outsiders, and the Office of Management and Budget. Notice is then placed in the Federal Register, and the public typically gets 30 to 60 days for comment.

47. The new law also empowers Magaw to "establish policies and procedures requiring air carriers to use information from government agencies to identify individuals on traveler lists who may be a threat to civil aviation and, if such an individual is identified, to notify appropriate law enforcement agencies and prohibit the individual from boarding an aircraft."

48. On February 1, 2002, it was reported in the Washington Post that federal aviation authorities and technology companies will soon begin testing a vast air security screening system designed to instantly pull together every traveler's travel history and living arrangements, plus a wealth of other personal and demographic information. The Washington Post also reported on May 29, 2002 that leading financial services firms have formed a private database company that will compile information about criminals, terrorists and other suspicious people, for use in screening new customers and weeding out those who may pose a risk. (Washington Post, May 29, 2002, "Financial Database To Screen Accounts Joint Effort Targets Suspicious Activities", Plaintiff believes that these news reports refer to the CAPPS II system.

49. Business Week reported in June 2002 that "Travelers could soon find themselves checked against a manifest that includes not only their name and seat assignment but also the photograph from their driver's license or passport. Or they could be scrutinized by facial-recognition systems designed to rout out known terrorists during boarding. No one objects to catching bad guys, of course, but such data-centric methods could scoop up a lot of others in the process. They might identify people who have routine relationships with terrorists folks who merely live in the same building or attend the same place of worship."

50. Ironically, in the midst of all these preparations, it is well-known throughout law enforcement that fake identification is a common ruse, and is routinely used in order to obtain government-issued identification that is every bit as fake. The New York Times, May 20, 2002 "Foreigners Obtain Social Security ID With Fake Papers", The nineteen people who are believed to have hijacked airplanes on September 11, 2001 were all vetted and approved by the same ID checks that are used today. The demand for ID was ineffective in preventing air piracy, both because IDs can be easily faked and because of the impossibility of accurately identifying honest individuals who may become future criminals.

Causes of Actions ("Counts")


First Cause of Action

Vagueness in Violation of the Due Process Clause of the
Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution

51. PLAINTIFF incorporates by reference the allegations in Paragraphs 1-50, above.

52. The Scheme is unconstitutionally vague, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment because it is vague, being unpublished, and thus provides no way for ordinary people or reviewing courts to conclusively determine what is legal. A secret regulation is void for vagueness on its face, because people are denied access to its content. Because the regulation is secret, people have no notice as to what is required to comply with it. Similarly, such a scheme vests standardless discretion in the hands of its enforcers, because the legal authority for the scheme is secret.

53 . The Defendants have not, and cannot, give sufficient notice to the public as to what is required to exercise their right to travel in order to cure the fact that the law is secret.

54. The secret nature of the regulation encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.

55. The Airline Defendants told the plaintiff three different stories: That government- issued ID was an FAA requirement; a TSA requirement; and airline policy. The Scheme cannot constitutionally be applied because it is a secret law.

Second Cause of Action

Violation of the Right to Be Free from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
in Violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution

56. PLAINTIFF incorporates by reference the allegations in Paragraphs 1-55, above.

57. The Scheme unconstitutionally seizes and searches citizens who are not suspected of being a threat to airport security.

58. Request for ID is a search subject to Fourth Amendment limitations. A government or airline official demanding ID is state action. A government or airline official demanding a more intrusive search as described above in exchange for dropping the demand for ID is also state action.

59. The Scheme searches every traveler - however, the Constitution outlaws general warrants. Suspicionless searches are not allowed for general law enforcement purposes, and have only been allowed in extremely limited contexts, even in airports and in motor vehicles. In addition, Plaintiff believes that his ID information has been placed inside a federal database and commingled with other data, without the permission or the consent of the Plaintiff, which constitutes an unconstitutional seizure.

Third Cause of Action

Violation of the Right to Travel in Violation of the Due Process
Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution

60. PLAINTIFF incorporates by reference the allegations in Paragraphs 1-59. above.

61. Freedom to travel at home without unreasonable governmental restriction is a fundamental constitutional right of every American citizen and is subject to strict scrutiny.

62. The Scheme burdens the right to travel within the United States.

63. The Scheme is unconstitutional because the Government has not demonstrated that it is necessary to achieve a compelling government purpose and it is not the least restrictive means of achieving that purpose.

Fourth Cause of Action

Violation of the Right to Travel and Associate Anonymously
in Violation of the First} and {Amendment V of the United States Constitution

64. PLAINTIFF incorporates by reference the allegations in Paragraphs 1-63, above.

65. Both the right to travel and the right of free association are fundamental constitutional rights of US persons, and subject to strict scrutiny.

66. Anonymity of association is protected by the fundamental right of free association.

67. The Scheme unconstitutionally burdens the right to travel and associate anonymously within the United States. The government has not demonstrated that it is necessary to achieve a compelling government purpose, nor that it is the least restrictive means of achieving that purpose.

Fifth Cause of Action

Violation of the Right to Petition the Government for Redress
of Grievances in Violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution

68. PLAINTIFF incorporates by reference the allegations in Paragraphs 1-67, above.

69. The right to petition the government for redress of grievances is a fundamental Constitutional right, subject to strict scrutiny. The right to Petition is burdened by requiring Petitioners to identify themselves, and by preventing Petitioners from traveling to where the seat of government is located.

70. The Scheme unconstitutionally burdens the right to Petition the government for redress of grievances.

Sixth Cause of Action

Violation of the Right to Equal Protection in Violation of
the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution

71. PLAINTIFF incorporates by reference the allegations in Paragraphs 1-70, above.

72. The Scheme unconstitutionally burdens the right for equal protection of all citizens who seek anonymity, by creating an invidious classification of "anonymous travelers", and arbitrarily forcing this entire class of citizens to endure a higher degree of intrusive searches without good cause than those endured by other citizens.

Seventh Cause of Action

5 USC 552(a) Freedom of Information Act

73. PLAINTIFF incorporates by reference the allegations in Paragraphs 1-72, above.

74. Section 552(a)(1) of the Freedom of Information Act requires the publication of substantive rules of general applicability adopted as authorized by law, and statements of general policy or interpretations of general applicability formulated and adopted by the agency; and each amendment, revision or repeal of the foregoing. Except to the extent that a person has actual and timely notice of the terms thereof, a person may not in any manner be required to resort to, or be adversely affected by, a matter required to be published in the Federal Register and not so published.

75. The FAA and/or TSA "security directives", the CAPPS I & II regulatory schemes, and similar regulations contain substantive rules of general applicability which apply to every person in the United States who travels by airplane. Any other regulations enforced by the Defendants that affect the Constitutional rights of travelers are also substantive rules of general applicability and therefore cannot be enforced. These regulations have not been published in the Federal Register, and therefore Plaintiff cannot in any manner be adversely affected by these regulations, rules, directives or other documents that affect the rights of any member of the general public.

"Prayer" or Request for Relief


Good cause having been shown, PLAINTIFF requests the following relief:

1. Declare that requiring an individual to identify themselves before or during travel within the United States violates the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution;

2. Declare that the Government Defendants have no power to enforce regulations that have not been published, pursuant to the First and Fifth Amendment and 5 USC 552a;

3. Enjoin the Defendants, and all persons acting in concert with them, from "requesting" or demanding that individuals identify themselves as a condition of travel;

4. Enjoin the Defendants, and all persons acting in concert with them, from discriminating in any fashion against individuals who do not voluntarily identify themselves.

5. Enjoin the Airline Defendants from promulgating or enforcing airline policies, regulations, or tariffs substantially similar to the federally created policies struck down in this case;

6. Enjoin the Government Defendants from issuing any future regulation that conditions travel within the United States on relinquishment of identity;

7. Enjoin the Government Defendants from collecting information identifying (or tending to identify) U.S. domestic travelers.

8. Enjoin the Airline Defendants from providing information to the Government, without probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, that would identify (or tend to identify) U.S. domestic travelers.

9. Ordering the Government Defendants to cease enforcement of all rules, directives or other documents that affect the rights of any member of the general public as described in this complaint, due to failure to publish in the Federal Register pursuant to FOIA.

10. Award Plaintiff costs and fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2412; and

11. Grant Plaintiff such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

Signature Block

Dated: July 18, 2002

Attorney at Law
1736 Franklin Street, Tenth Floor
Oakland, California 94612
Telephone: (510) 444-0226
Attorney for Plaintiff JOHN GILMORE

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