Why Police Need More Firepower, Part 237
Cool Quiz

Real ID Act

Professor Orin Kerr refutes one person's arguments against the Real ID Act; he also wonders why some people oppose it.  Although he is tentatively against it, his opposition is not due to the Real ID Act as such, but rather because he thinks states are doing a good enough job regulating IDs.  I, on the other hand, am against the Real ID Act because of first principles - privacy and federalism - and because it will stifle innovation.

A citizen should have the right to live anonymously.  She shouldn't be compelled to tell anyone where she lives; how much money she makes; or what her address is.  Those who want to learn details of her private life (including the government) should be forced to find it.

Because of our federalist system, some states will let a person get a driver's license without requiring him to give a fingerprint or provide his home address.  Perhaps he might move to one of those states because of his privacy ethos.  He should at least have the choice.  And states should have the autonomy to give him that choice.

The Real ID Act forces states to force Americans to volunteer private information, or else surrender the right to drive - which means the right to go work or travel.  An American shouldn't have to make that choice.  Or even if he should, a state should be allowed to accommodate his beliefs by limiting the information it collects.

Moreover, after Hiibel, police can require an American to produce her identification.  Maybe she doesn't want to give her name or other personal information to anyone, even police officers.  In my view, a person has a right to remain unmolested and anonymous until she breaks the law.

The Real ID Act will also likely lead us to Carry Your ID Act.  And then we'll have a Produce Your ID Act.  So not only will the Real ID Act block my quest for solitude and block state attempts to accommodate me and others, it will also lead us to a "Show me your papers" society.

As a kid, we used to mock apartheid South Africa for requiring people to show identification upon leaving their homes.  And we used to scream, "Show me your papers!" to mock Nazi soldiers.  Nowadays, some folks can't understand why one would prefer to keep his or her papers secret.  Maybe 9/11 changed all of this.

I don't think 9/11 should destroy America's privacy ethos.  After all, a tyrannical government would make 9/11 look like May Day.  Indeed, after Ruby Ridge and Waco, TX, I'm not sure we shouldn't remain fearful of the current administration.

Comments