National ID is Here; Some States Threaten to Rebel
Last issue we reported on the REAL ID Act, a police-state federal bill that would in effect turn state drivers licenses into national ID cards, as well as providing for the use of the cards to collect a national database of information on citizens.
The bad news: despite protests by hundreds of civil liberties groups representing millions of American citizens, the Senate passed the bill unanimously today. (Republican backers of the bill had added it to a must-pass emergency military spending bill, thus bypassing debate and making it all but unstoppable.) President Bush, whose spokesmen once said he “does not support a national ID card,” strongly backs the bill and has promised to sign it into law.
The (sort of) good news: many state governments are protesting the bill. Most of the concern isn’t over the civil liberties nightmare, sadly. Instead, states are worried that implementing the bill will cost them an enormous amount of money — potentially hundreds of millions of dollars — and make getting a driver’s license extremely difficult for many law-abiding citizens and a headache for state officials.
Some state governors are threatening to challenge it in court. Some state governments even say they will disobey the law.
“Governors are looking at all their options. If more than half of the governors agree we’re not going down without a fight on this, Congress will have to consider changing this unfunded federal mandate,” said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, vice chairman of the National Governors Association.
Under the law, residents of states that fail to adopt the new national ID won’t be able to board planes, enter federally protected buildings, get most jobs, or receive Social Security. (So much for Republican concerns about unfunded federal mandates, limited federal government, and states rights.)
Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), the most outspoken opponent of the national ID in Congress, has described it this way:
“This REAL ID Act establishes a massive, centrally-coordinated database of highly personal information about American citizens: at a minimum their name, date of birth, place of residence, Social Security number, and physical characteristics. The legislation also grants open-ended authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to require biometric information on IDs in the future. This means your harmless looking driver’s license could contain a retina scan, fingerprints, DNA information, or radio frequency technology … National ID cards will be used to track the law-abiding masses, not criminals.”
A national ID has come to America, and the primary opposition is by state lawmakers who are worried that it might cost too much to implement. It’s a sad day — and another indication of the desperate need for a strong libertarian movement in America.
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