Blog of Rights

Note to Congress: 23 States Rejected Real ID

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:54pm

Saturday, May 16, 2009, should go down in legislative history as the tipping point for the Real ID Act of 2005. This failed law tried to turn state drivers licenses into a national ID card and impose new burdens on taxpayers, citizens, immigrants and state governments. But the states pushed back

On Saturday — almost four years to that May 11 day that then-President George W. Bush signed the Real ID Act of 2005, Minnesota became the 23rd state to reject it. In the entire state of Minnesota, only one lawmaker voted in support of Real ID.

In signing legislation that prohibits the state from creating a national ID, Minnesota Gov. Timothy Pawlenty joined 22 governors in every corner of the United States. Among the 23 states are governors as far north as Alaska and far south as Louisiana as well as the eastern most corner in Maine and all the way to the western tip in Washington. In fact, you can walk from coast to coast in the United States without ever leaving an anti-Real ID state.

And we would not want to forget to mention Arizona. Janet Napolitano, who opposed Real ID when she was the governor of that state, is in charge of implementing this fruitless law as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

During a January confirmation hearing, Secretary Napolitano promised a review of Real ID. She noted the need for more consultations from states on an initiative which is currently a fiscal burden on them. We agree with Secretary Napolitano's statements at the Anti-Defamation League; "repeal REAL ID and substitute something else that pivots off of the driver's license but accomplishes some of the same goals."

It's time for Congress to repeal Real ID.

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