"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."- The Constitution of the United States, Tenth Amendment Rick Wagner used this tagline last week to talk about another topic, so he deserves at least a little credit for the idea development today. The concerns expressed here bear little resemblance otherwise.
Three months from today, the first phases of the federal Real ID Act of 2005 will kick in. Citizens of most states will not see any substantive change, as most states have requested, and been granted, extensions to implement the act's provisions. This includes Colorado.
Residents of Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Oklahoma may see their ability to access federal facilities, or facilities where access is federally controlled, i.e. airports, restricted or denied until their states have a compliance plan in place.
A total of 39 states raised questions, objections, or in the case of the "Real ID 5", have rejected the act altogether. The Governor of Montana has displayed particular fervor regarding the issue, writing the governors of several states urging them to reject Real ID as well. I called Gov. Ritter's office today, and a staff member stated that to his knowledge the Governor has not replied to Gov. Schweitzer as yet.
There are lots of information sources, with varying perspectives and approaches, that provide answers to questions about Real ID:
The Dept. of Homeland Security information page provides the "official" answers.
There is excellent coverage from CNet News as it relates to the effect on individual states and the issues surrounding the act from many perspectives.
I'll repeat the Wikipedia link from above.
From the opposition side, the ACLU's dedicated site to the Real ID issue is also informative.
In fact, opposition to Real ID and/or its' implementation appears to be bipartisan in nature, as well as across idealogical lines. According to Information Week:
Even certain evangelical groups have weighed in on this, some equating Real ID with the "mark of the beast" as depicted in the "End of Days" section of the Book of Revelation.More than 600 groups oppose the Real ID Act, which was inserted into a military spending bill two years ago. They include the National Governors Association, the American Bar Association, the American Conservative Union, the Council of State Governments, Gun Owners of America, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Finally, when The American Spectator is on the same page as the ACLU about an issue, and fans of Sean Hannity are weighing in on the same side as well, then something is definitely out of joint.
From this corner it appears that the Real ID initiative is an attempt at federal intrusion into areas that are outside its' constitutional purview. The act intrudes excessively on civil liberties and individual privacy, will be overly costly to implement, and even costlier to administer. It is a largely unfunded mandate, and as such the administration feels it necessary to resort to coercion to get it implemented before 1/20/09.
It is an unwelcome attempt by a lame-duck administration to foist its' will on a nation that appears to have long rejected continued attempts by this same administration to move us ever closer toward a surveillance society.
One wonders why the Bush administration would attempt to force the issue on a law so unpopular so late in the administration's lifetime. If John McCain becomes the Republican nominee, his support for Real ID, if elected, would seemingly guarantee the continued implementation of the act.
Other presidential candidates appear to have either reversed their voting stance, have reaffirmed it, or have stated their opposition from the start. With this hasty and heavy-handed action, what's this Republican administration saying about their ability to hold the White House?
I'm hopeful that there are more governors and legislatures that will show the courage to stand up to this, as well as advocacy groups who can help to muster the grassroots support needed to put this not-so-sacred cow out to pasture.
Looking forward to hearing back from Gov. Ritter on the issue. Maybe he'll hear from you too.