The federal government ratcheted up its game of chicken with states over REAL ID last month, threatening once again to ban residents of non compliant states from using their driver’s license as ID to clear TSA checkpoints.

On Oct. 13, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent letters to five states denying their request for a time extensions to bring their driver’s licenses in compliance with REAL ID. That means that in 2018, residents of Oklahoma, Kentucky, Maine, Pennsylvania and South Carolina may find themselves on a virtual no-fly list. They will need to have alternate ID, such as a passport, in order to clear TSA screening.

The five states join Minnesota, Missouri and Washington, already under the DHS gun. The agency denied those states extension requests late last year.

In practice, REAL ID coopts the states into creating a national ID system. The federal government has no constitutional authority to mandate such a thing.

The feds resurrect these bully tactics every couple of years, and has done so since Pres. George W. Bush signed REAL ID into law in 2005. Instead of following through on threats the feds simply keep extending their deadlines.

Under the act, all 50 states were supposed comply with the federal law by 2009. But, states rebelled against REAL ID for several reasons, including privacy concerns and the fact that Congress didn’t provide any funding for the mandates it expects states to implement. Some states passed laws expressly prohibiting implementation of the act. To date, 27 states remain non-compliant, nullifying the national ID system in effect.

According to the Washington Times, the DHS letter sent to Kentucky asserted the state “has not committed to meeting all remaining requirements and has not provided adequate justification for continued noncompliance.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Bevin responded to public pressure and vetoed a bill passed by the legislature to bring the commonwealth into compliance.

Instead of telling the DHS to go jump into a deep lake, Kentucky officials whined.

“It’s disappointing that the federal government is basically turning a blind eye to recent progress we’ve made in improving our systems,” Kentucky Department of Vehicle Regulation commissioner John-Mark Hack told the Washington Times. He went on to insist the state will continue working to meet the requirements.

According to the Washington Times article, most of the state “in compliance” haven’t actually met all of the law’s requirements. The Identity Project spokesman Edward Hasbrouck said few of the 23 states on the fed’s compliant list have provide access to information contained in their motor vehicle database via electronic access to all other states.

“It’s a game of chicken, it’s a game of intimidation, and very little of it has to do with actual requirements or actual deadlines,” Hasbrouck said.

It’s a game of chicken states can win. Do you really think the federal government wants to deal with the political fallout of keeping millions of Americans from getting on airplanes?

State officials should continue to refuse to implement REAL ID. At the same time, they been to aggressively make the case the case against the national ID system. Then let the feds follow through on their threats to bar people from commercial flights (they won’t). Let the DHS explain to the people why they’re keeping people off airplanes in order impose an expensive, unconstitutional, unfunded mandate that threatens their privacy.

My guess is it won’t fly.

 


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