amusing erudition wrote:
Matthew Mitchell wrote:Trying to get in a constitutional law argument with a police officer is a stupid idea, even if you think you might be right. Just show your ID and be cooperative so the officer and you can both get on your way.
If you are right, though, it would make the officer personally actionable in a civil rights suit--I would definitely remind him of this in any such argument. Exercising your rights is not a stupid idea. Police officers are not allowed to do anything that couldn't be legislatively prescribed, and, frankly, if you let them get away with anything they're not allowed to do, down the slippery slope we go.
That said, I would recommend the same as Dr. Mitchell as far as giving name and ID, but if you're not doing something illegal, you don't have to respond with anything more than your name if you don't want, as I recall. Naturally, I'm not advocating not cooperating if that's what you want to do, but don't feel pressured into it if you don't want to.
I'm no Scalia strict constructionist, but I'm pretty sure the Bill of Rights makes no explicit mention of an unalienable, unassaiable right to take photos of passing railroad trains.
I agree, Matt Mitchell is absolutely right. It makes no sense to try and turn a very simple and routine matter into a Supreme Court case. You can either let the cop do his/her job and both walk away happy, or, you can initiate your test case experiment and find yourself on at least the immediate loosing end of what could be a long, costly, and ultimately meaningless demonstration of "rights" exercise.
There is no Constitutional right to stand next to a railroad Main Line with something that looks like a camera, mounted on what's likely a tripod, aimed at passing trains filled with hundreds of commuters, and then stonewall the police at every turn when they attempt to investigate. My guess is most reasonable people - judges and jury pools alike - would probably agree.
Matt's advice is solid and informed. Give a call ahead or stop in the local PD and let them give them a simple heads-up.