Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Two More States Oppose Real ID + ACLU Releases Report Card

Even with the Department of Homeland Security scaling back the scope of the Real ID Act as well as giving states more time to comply, opposition continues to mount.

In the past few days two more states have joined the growing chorus of opposition to, or even outright refusal to comply with, the Real ID Act. And Montana's Governor has stepped up his efforts to urge other state leaders to join him in opposing the Act.

The W. Virginia State Senate has put forth a bill rejecting Real ID Act participation. The Register Herald Reports:

His bill introduced Thursday with 11 co-sponsors flatly declares that West Virginia won’t take part in the 2005 act. Moreover, it says the Department of Transportation is directed against implementing the federal act’s provisions, and that it must inform the governor of any effort by federal agencies, including Homeland Security, to use records in the Motor Vehicles Division to put it in force.

Barnes said privacy rights are a constitutional guarantee and viewed upon by West Virginians as “sacred.”“Real ID gives the government access in one fell swoop to a lot of our information,” the senator said.“First of all, the government hasn’t told us exactly what they want to do with all this information. And that ought to make people nervous.”

Barnes finds it troubling that such cards contain a wide range of personal data — medical, purchasing, credit and the like — and even more could be stashed on the cards.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Not to be outdone, a new Missouri bill thumbs its nose at federal Real ID Act as well. St. Louis Today Reports:

"We have a federal government that is out of control," Guest said. The Legislature overwhelmingly passed a resolution asking the federal government to repeal the program last year; Guest's bill would go a step further by prohibiting the state from participating in the program entirely.


Because Real ID would be required for so many common tasks, Guest said it amounts to a national identification card."Almost everybody would be affected by it," he said. "It is the first step to Big Brother watching you."

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

I would be remiss to not report a short follow up to my recent post regarding Montana's opposition to Real ID. The good news is Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is urging a third of the nation's governors to join him in opposing the implementation of a national identification card, saying they can force Congress to change it.

The West Central Tribune reports:

Schweitzer, who last year said "no, nope, no way, hell no" to the federal plan calling for national driver's licenses under the REAL ID Act, sent a letter Friday to 17 other governors asking them to oppose a Department of Homeland Security effort to penalize states that have not adopted the mandate.

"If we stand together, either DHS will blink or Congress will have to act to avoid havoc at our nation's airports and federal courthouses," Schweitzer


The American Civil Liberties Union has suggested Homeland Security will not move forward with the travel restrictions if states force the issue. The act has been delayed since its 2005 inception amid opposition from the states.

The states who have passed legislation or resolutions objecting to the REAL ID Act - many due to concerns over the cost - are Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, according to the ACLU.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

The other good news to report, and I admittedly can't even keep up with them all, is the avalanche of newspaper editorials and op-ed that are coming out in opposition to Real Id...yet another indication the momentum in this debate over civil liberties is on the side of the people, not the administration.

And in case there was any doubt left in your mind regarding just what a threat this Act poses - on so many levels - here's some highlights of the ACLU's recently released report card (hint: the Act gets an "F") on the Act and its various components.

The ACLU release states:

A systematic analysis of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) final regulations for the Real ID Act reveals that the regulations still address only 9 percent of the problems with the act that have been identified, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.


The ACLU’s analysis of the DHS regulations is based on a list of 56 problems that have been commonly identified with the Real ID law by a variety of parties, including privacy activists, domestic violence victims, anti-government conservatives, religious leaders and DMV administrators. Of the 56 problems, the regulations successfully addressed or “passed” 6 (11 percent), scored an incomplete on 12 (21 percent), and failed 38 (68 percent).

...ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Tim Sparapani: “Despite the outpouring of public feedback they received – an astounding 21,000-plus comments from the public – and 9 additional months of work, their passing score has barely budged and their incompletes have risen only slightly. It’s as if Secretary Chertoff covered his ears and pretended he couldn’t hear the public’s protests. Since legitimate complaints were ignored willfully by DHS, it is now clear that Congress needs to step in and fix what DHS will not.”


“On so many of the hard issues, DHS has kicked the problems down the road to the next administration and beyond,” said Steinhardt. “They are trying to stretch out this bitter medicine to get the states and the American people to swallow it, but what this scorecard shows is that once it’s down it will still be poison.”

Needless to say, we'll be covering this issue very closely...including upcoming debates on the Act in New York and Virginia.

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