Building a Better Terry Stop: The Case for Hiibel

By Charles Hobson
October 01, 2004
Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court, decided by the Supreme Court in June, is an easy case to misunderstand. Too often, public perceptions about this case frame the debate as a choice between civil liberties and an authoritarian state ordering individuals to present their papers or risk imprisonment. The Hiibel decision does not go that far. While important, the Supreme Court decision only grants a limited authority to police officers in states with appropriately narrow stop and identify laws. People are at no greater risk of arbitrary arrest than they were before the decision. What has happened is that the “stop and frisk” sanctioned by Terry v. Ohio, has become an even more effective public safety tool at little additional cost to civil liberty....