this one's not quite dead yet
Your Liberty: Terrorism has destroyed states' rights
Posted: 2005-02-11 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

America may be moving closer to a national ID card as Congress votes on the "Real ID Act." The act would require states to make their driver's licenses conform to the federal standards laid out in the bill. This will be accomplished by barring federal agencies from accepting non-conforming state-issued identification.

This is a gross violation of a state's rights. Nowhere does the Constitution give the federal government the power to set standards for identification, and by the 10th Amendment, the states retain that right.

The "Real ID Act" is a blatant attempt to further erode the rights of states, by using indirect pressure. In this case, the government is not requiring states to conform to these standards, but will only allow citizens of states that do to interact with the federal government.

The bill also takes one direct swipe at states' rights. If a state refuses to comply with the federal standards, it is required to indicate that its identification cards "may not be accepted by any Federal agency for any official purpose" and must be visually different from a 'federally legal' identification card.

This is similar to the situation with the drinking age; Congress cannot legally set a national drinking age, but by threatening to withhold highway funding from states that do not set it at 21, they are able to force state policy.

Our nation was founded on the idea that the federal government did not have all the power. In fact, the 10th Amendment limited that power, "reserv[ing] to the states" "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution."

The argument being made for this egregious breach of the Constitution is that it is a national security issue, since a national ID card will help prevent future terrorist acts. This is simply not true, and is being used to attract support for the bill.

Establishing a national identification standard will not make this country safer, and it will only serve to further erode the privacy rights of citizens. One aspect of the "Real ID Act" requires all states to combine their motor vehicle databases. The act sets a minimum for what data must be included, but does not limit it.

It is entirely possible, therefore, that all of a person's information, which may be linked to their motor vehicle information, would be available as part of a nationally-available database. No recourse is given for citizens whose information is incorrect; if one state accidentally indicates that you are a felon, for example, any other state that checks the database—for any reason, not necessarily a motor vehicles one—they will see this false information.

A national identification card may make it more difficult for an underage citizen to buy alcohol, but this is not a national security issue. What this act will not do is make America any safer; it will only serve to increase the power of the already-large federal government and to erode the freedom and liberty of us, its citizens.


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