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A coalition of organizations led by officials at the Rutherford Institute is urging members of Congress not to even consider plans to revive the failed Real ID Act of 2005, which mandated “costly and restrictive” nationwide standards for a drivers’ license database.
The plan, although made into law, never has been implemented, and according to John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, half the states adopted resolutions or other prohibitions on the federal plan.
Those included Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington, and officials said 15 of them actually adopted laws prohibiting the implementation of the act.
The new coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, Asian Law Caucus, Constitutional Alliance, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Floridians against REAL ID, Liberty Coalition and others representing a broad range across the spectrum of politically active groups.
“Civil and privacy rights advocates, as well as liberal-, conservative-, and libertarian-leaning organizations, have long raised concerns that a national ID card would enable the government to track citizens and, thus, jeopardize the privacy rights of Americans,” Whitehead said.
“When all is said and done, the adoption of a national ID card serves one purpose only: to provide the government with the ultimate control over the American people,” he said.
The letter, addressed to representatives, explains: “We the undersigned organizations write today to express our opposition to any effort by Congress or the Department of Homeland Security to force states to comply with the Real ID Act of 2005.”
Although the law gave states three years to comply with “restrictive federal licensing standards” and create a national database of license information, individual birth certificates and other personal information, it never has been completed.
States’ rights organizations say it simply is a rejection on the part of states of the federal government’s intrusion into their affairs.
“Groups from across the political spectrum opposed it. Supporters of fiscal conservatism and federalism decried it as an unfunded mandate that trampled on the Tenth Amendment. Civil rights and civil liberties groups worried that the act lacked sufficient protections and might increase racial discrimination. Defenders of religious freedom described its negative impact on the Amish and other religious denominations. Consumer groups feared it would result in an expansive and cumbersome new bureaucracy. Advocates against domestic violence believed it would expose personal information about survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault,” according to the letter.
Further, “they believed it would facilitate tracking of data on individuals and bring government into the very center of every citizen’s life.”
And the costs, estimated originally at $23 billion, were outlandish, states decided.
Now the federal government, if it tried to impose the system, would fail, the letter said.
“DHS cannot mandate compliance because implementing its sole penalty under the statute – barring the use of non-compliant licenses for boarding airplanes – would bring air travel to a halt,” the letter said.
The letter to the House Judicial Subcommittee on Crime said the only possible outcome to an attempt to enforce the plan would be “harm” to individual liberties and a “waste” of taxpayer resources.