Saturday, January 25, 2020

Citizen My Ass - You are an Indebted Tenant of the Sovereign

theamericanconservative |  The REAL ID Act has been intensely controversial since its 2005 enactment in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and fiercely opposed by both conservatives and liberals. Twenty-five  states passed resolutions objecting to the law or signaling that they would not comply. The Electronic Frontier Foundation declared in 2007,  “A federal law that aims to conscript the states into creating a national ID system… is precisely the kind of scheme that the framers expected that federalism would guard against.” 

But the Department of Homeland Security has compelled submission by announcing that the Transportation Security Agency will prohibit Americans from flying unless they have either a REAL ID Act-approved driver’s license or a passport.  The Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that the “‘constitutional right to travel from one State to another’ is firmly embedded in our jurisprudence.” But REAL ID Act policies have routinely scorned both the Bill of Rights and Supreme Court rulings. 

Most Americans do not possess passports, so federally-approved state driver’s licenses are becoming de facto internal passports. Almost a hundred million Americans do not have REAL ID-compliant identification, according to the U.S. Travel Association. In Minnesota, 11 percent of drivers still have licenses that will be rejected at TSA checkpoints starting on October 1. States and individuals are chaotically scrambling to meet the law’s shifting demands. Twitter is echoing with howls of people who spend hours at motor vehicle administration offices only to have their paperwork rejected because of picayune quibbles. 

But the REAL ID law poses perils far beyond the airport entrance. Maryland began issuing REAL ID driver’s licenses in 2009. In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security notified the state that its REAL ID licenses were invalid unless Maryland snared more documents for each driver. More than half a million drivers remain at risk for losing their licenses.  

TheWashington Post reported in August that 8,000 Maryland licenses have been suspended. Three months earlier, MVA announced that 66,300 people were at risk of having their driver’s license or identification cards revoked for failure to comply with MVA demands.  As Maryland ramps up enforcement, the number of suspended licenses is probably far higher now but MVA spokespersons failed to respond to repeated press inquiries seeking the latest number. Maryland police are seizing the license of any driver who they stop whose only offense was failure to hustle to show Maryland bureaucrats their birth certificate, passport, utility bills, Social Security card, or other proof of their identity. 

Since the 2005 enactment of the REAL ID Act, the federal government has helped bankroll the license plate scanner networks  that permit tracking any driver on the roads in many parts of the nation. If Maryland decides to target people who received cancellation notices, there are almost 500 license plate scanners deployed in police cars and elsewhere in the state that compile almost half a billion scans of driver’s per year. If the order is given to use the scanners, a thousand people a day could be stripped of their licenses and potentially arrested. MVA spokespersons failed to respond to inquiries about whether license plate scanners may be used for enforcing REAL ID compliance demands.