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by Eric Hammer | FTMDaily Contributing Writer
TEL AVIV, Mar 9 – The REAL ID has been postponed once again. On Friday, Congress passed a law extending the deadline for states to comply with the new law, this time extending the deadline out to January, 2013. However, a number of states are still actively refusing to participate and have passed laws forbidding the use of the REAL ID program. Thus, for all intents and purposes, all Congress has really done is to pass the buck from the 112th Congress to the 113th Congress.
The REAL ID law was passed by Congress in 2005 and signed by President Bush in that same year. The law requires that state driver’s licenses include certain common security features and a computer readable code which allows for easy access to information about holders of the licenses from state and federal authorities in any of the 50 states.
In addition, once the program has been fully enacted, it requires that no one will be allowed to enter a federal building or board an aircraft without presenting such an ID. In essence, opponents of the plan are saying that this is tantamount to creating a national ID card which all citizens would be required to carry.
The plan has also been faulted because it requires that states demand various forms of documentation to prove that people applying for driver’s licenses are in fact legally allowed to live in the United States. This has a number of state houses up in arms because they worry that the driver’s license original purpose – to make sure that the roads are safe will be undermined when illegal immigrants decide to drive without a license and without insurance.
The original intention of the REAL ID plan was to make it harder for terrorists to board aircraft. This was a direct recommendation of the 9/11 commission since 18 of the 19 9/11 hijackers had obtained American driver’s licenses. However, the mandate was unfunded, leaving the states to foot the bill, a fact which many state houses pointed to when passing laws forbidding compliance with the new Federal mandate.
Plus, in the opinion of a rather broad cross section of the American public that includes such strange bedfellows as the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, it was a poorly thought out plan which will ultimately fail to protect American lives but which will infringe on personal liberties and privacy.
16 states have to passed statewide laws banning the new requirements within their borders. They include, Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, Missouri, Utah, Tennessee, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Missisipi, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho and Maine.
In addition, almost every state in the union has seen some action, in the form of resolutions demanding that Congress repeal the REAL ID act or laws which were passed by one but not the other of the state houses which forbade the state from participating. Beyond those, in Minnesota, the state legislature passed such a law, forbidding compliance with the REAL ID act, but it was vetoed by the governor there.
The ultimate fate of the REAL ID act may however rest with the courts, which will have to decide, if the law is ever fully implemented whether it fits within the bound of constitutional law. This will be an important test of the right to privacy that the Supreme Court first established in Roe V. Wade, the landmark case that made abortion legal in all fifty states. Legal challenges to the new law have yet to make it to the Supreme Court however, so it remains to be seen how and indeed if the court will rule on the REAL ID.
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