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Montana Says No to Real ID, Passes Law to Deny It 518

SoCalChris writes "Montana's governor signed a bill yesterday in defiance of the Real ID Act. House Bill 287 [PDF] requires the Montana Motor Vehicle Division to not implement the provisions of the Real ID Act, and to report to the governor any attempts by any agent or agency of the Department of Homeland Security to attempt to implement the bill. Montana is the first state to implement such a law."
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Montana Says No to Real ID, Passes Law to Deny It

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  • Good trend (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:21PM (#18789145)
    Now if they can only bring back the old "reasonable and prudent" daytime speed limits, also in defiance of the federal government...
  • Lesson for the world (Score:4, Interesting)

    by heretic108 ( 454817 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:24PM (#18789185)
    If only people and their elected respresentatives in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, as well as other US states were as feisty about their privacy, then the real thrust of the 9/11 attacks would be rendered null and void. As it is, bin Laden (if alive) and his crew must be guffawing about how they've destroyed so much of that 'decadent infidel regime' in the west that also goes by the name of 'freedom'.
  • Re:Good trend (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:26PM (#18789215)
    The 18-year-old drinking age and some drunken driving limits were also forced on states by saying "pass this law or we'll cut you out of federal highway funds your people paid for in taxes". A total end run around the constitution that the big chief court in Washington had no problem with. I'm sure there's a long list of this abuse someplace.
  • Good for them. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by apathy maybe ( 922212 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:26PM (#18789221) Homepage Journal
    I'm not in the USA, so my comments are general. I'll get that out of the way first.

    The linking of databases, such as required by Real ID has a large number of problems and few benefits (unless you are a totalitarian). There are inevitably going to be problems with control to the data (who has access?), it isn't going to stop fake ID's and it paves the way for people to give up more and more information to a central state.

    The benefits are simple, the state gets a large access which it can then use (and most of the time misuse). It will be inevitably linked to other databases, and then the state can do what the East German state did.

    It knows when you broke the law, and if you do something it doesn't like, it pulls you in and charges you with whatever it likes. After all, who hasn't broken some law or another?

    This comment from the BillingsGazette, shows some other possible uses for the government.

    "We also don't think that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., ought to tell us that if we're going to get on a plane we have to carry their card, so when it's scanned through they know where you went, when you got there and when you came home," said Schweitzer, a Democrat.
    (And isn't Montana the state with the highest level of gun ownership or something? Someone should shoot the federal agents, that would teach the fuckers.)
  • Re:About Time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Drew McKinney ( 1075313 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:32PM (#18789295) Journal
    Or medical cannabis laws in California. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

    Even if the federal government did get their way with the states, how would the implement this? They want the state government systems to synchronize their records with the national government. Sounds easy to the unwashed masses (Washington Bureaucrats), but in practice this is very, very difficult. I'm sure there are slashdotters on here who can speak to difficulties in linking just local governments to state systems let alone at the NATIONAL level!

    I was once on a project linking a city government's records (I wont mention what kind) to the state government. Except for the fact that the city was using legacy system X running on X, and the state was on legacy Y running on Y. Oh, and don't forget the Bummsville servers which also need to integrate; and they haven't upgraded they're setup in 8 years and nobody knows how it works anymore.

    I PRAY that the feds get they're way and we get to see how much of a mess it is for them to link these disparate, outdated, undocumented systems together.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bobcat7677 ( 561727 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:32PM (#18789297) Homepage
    First state?

    I thought Maine [] already did this with Idaho and Washington following closely behind? Or have those laws not been enacted yet?
  • governor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PresidentEnder ( 849024 ) <> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:32PM (#18789301) Journal
    I'm from Montana, and all I can say is: I am very, very glad that Schweitzer is governer now. Judy Martz, our previous governor(governess?) would have gone along with the REAL ID act, just to be compliant with our wise and noble leader in DC.
  • Re:governor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pschmied ( 5648 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:39PM (#18789375) Homepage
    Yeah, and maybe with two democratic senators, MT will back it up too.

    Judy Martz was a tool: Mrs. "My husband never hit me, but then I never gave him reason to." ...or the fact that she was a *self professed* lapdog of industry.

    Hey, how about you Montanans also get a ballot initiative to institute instant runoff voting (IRV)? I'm an expat, but I still vote in MT elections... I'd support it. :-)
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:48PM (#18789489)
    The Feds won that battle a long time ago by a.) allowing pretty much anything under an outrageously broad interpretation of the interstate commerce clause and b.) threatening to pull federal highway and other unrelated funds from states if they did not comply with random laws covering a broad range of topics.

    Seems to me if the feds can threaten to pull funds that a state's taxpayers paid into if the state doesn't follow some totally unrelated regulation, the state should have the ability to opt out of paying into those types of funds on behalf of its taxpayers. So, if the feds pull highway funding, the states should be allowed to withhold the portion of federal taxes its citizens pay that would normally go to the federal highway budget and have the taxpayers pay that money directly to the state's highway fund instead.

    Also, I'd like a unicorn.
  • by sehlat ( 180760 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @06:52PM (#18789521)
    The original constitution provided for the House to be elected directly by the people of their state, and for Senators to be elected or appointed by the state legislatures. What this meant was that Senators who acted against the perceived interests of their state would have a short service life. It also meant that a lot of the things we see coming out of Washington, including such "unfunded mandates" as the Real ID act, which imposes enormous costs on the states that the Federal government doesn't pay for, can't be remedied by the legislatures who have to vote the money for these things recalling them.

  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @07:00PM (#18789615)
    By enacting this legislation, Montana has denied its residents access to any federal programs that require the presentation of government-issued photo identification. One notable example is your passport: a photo ID is required to get a passport. No skin off the nose of the feds - in fact, it's less work for them to round-file all the passport applications from Montana once the ID requirements roll around.

    And good luck getting back into the country when you head up to Alberta for cheap prescription drugs. You may be required to show a passport or other photo ID to re-enter the country across the Canadian border (and a passport is required when traveling by air), and since DHS is in charge of that, they can take one look at your Montana driver's license and turn you away.

  • History. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @07:08PM (#18789719)
    A great number of states once told the Federal government where they might stick their legislation.

    The result was a very long and bloody war, resulting in the defeat of those states. Granted, the South gave a damned good fight, only succumbing to the North 'zerging for the win'... ...But back then, there were no cruise missiles, strategic bombers, et cetera.

    In a country where we're so afraid that we're banning fingernail clippers from airplanes and crying over a ridiculously low number of casualties in Iraq, there's not going to be any sort of real civil war without which something truly astonishing happens.

    Rights being eroded isn't truly astonishing, it's been going on since 1865.
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @07:09PM (#18789723) Homepage Journal

    Although Montana's valiant stand is commendable, the battle over "Real ID" is long lost. The current license databases are reachable by police from other States already, and even the security guards undergo training to recognize drivers licenses (of States and of many countries).

    Passport is already a "Real ID" and may soon become required to obtain access to any Federal building (such as the one blown up by Timothy McVeigh).

    The only (rational) argument against "Real ID" is that such single database can be abused. Well, guess what, a collection of easily accessible databases with a unified interface is just as easily abused — and we already have it. A New Hampshire state trooper was able to get my driving record from Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle from his car — in 1997...

    May, as well, have "Real ID"...

  • Re:About Time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @07:11PM (#18789749) Homepage Journal
    Kinda makes you wonder how this social norm of licensing people to drive came about. I wonder if there is anywhere in the world where requiring people to have a license to drive is considered as absurd as americans find the idea of requiring people to have a license to watch tv.

    I'd advocate an Internet license, but I'd probably fail :)
  • by HollowSky ( 680312 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @07:24PM (#18789903)
    A New Hampshire state trooper was able to get my driving record from Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle from his car -- in 1997...

    May, as well, have "Real ID"...

    This is actually a interesting thing. States have treaties with other states to get this kind of information. Chances are Massachusetts has an information sharing treaty with New Hampshire, but Georgia may not have a treaty with California. So a ticket there wouldn't necessarily show up on your CA license, but your insurance company may still see it if they have offices in both states.

    But, as states negotiate treaties, the information becomes available and they match it up and send you letters for collection and/or suspension (sometimes many, many years later.) How do they negotiate these things? No idea. More than likely a chance to get at the other's dabase for revenue collection....
  • by real gumby ( 11516 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @07:27PM (#18789947)

    For those people that dont care about CCTV and Orwellian ideas that they have in Britain because they dont think of themselvs as a criminal, Think Again....[list of example laws]
    How would you even know, if the law you were violating were a secret law []?
  • by tx_kanuck ( 667833 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:06PM (#18790483)
    Lets say, just for the sake of this argument, that I am from Montana. Lets also say that I don't have a passport. If I am not allowed to enter Federal Buildings without a RealID compliant drivers license or passport, wouldn't that mean that I am now forbidden to enter Federal Court? So now I cannot sue anyone in Federal Court. When the State court and Federal Court share a building, I cannot even go to State Court. And the best part? Since the passport office is a federal building, I can't even go to the passport office to get a RealID compliant ID card. Oh yeah, I can't even meet with the IRS to go over my taxes. I just became a non-person. Of course, that assumes a strict reading of the law, and IANAL.

    That being said, as soon as someone tried to enforce me not entering a Federal Court building, the judge would toss that law out. Hopefully.
  • Re:About Time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shmlco ( 594907 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:21PM (#18790637) Homepage
    Of course, if they don't support RealID, what happens, say, when you fly to New York on business and now try to fly back?
  • Re:About Time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:48PM (#18791013) Homepage Journal
    Kinda makes you wonder how this social norm of licensing people to drive came about. I wonder if there is anywhere in the world where requiring people to have a license to drive is considered as absurd as americans find the idea of requiring people to have a license to watch tv.

    I have a friend from Bangladesh; they have drivers licenses there, but if you had the right connections or enough money, it just wasn't worth getting one. If you got pulled over you just paid the bribe or showed the right person's card and you were set. The bureaucracy and bribes involved in actually procuring a license was supposedly worse than just violating the law and getting away with it after the fact. Sort of a "better to beg forgiveness than ask permission" situation.

    This was a while ago and I think they've done a lot of combat corruption there since then, so I'm not necessarily saying that's the case anymore, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were many places where rampant low-level corruption [1] exists where it's the case.

    [1] I don't mean "low level" here to mean "not serious," I mean corruption on the actual 'street level,' among the people who actually enforce the law, as opposed to 'high level' corruption among the people who make the laws. Here in the U.S., we don't have that much corruption at low levels -- at least not compared to places like Bangladesh; you probably won't get out of a speeding ticket by slipping the cop a few bucks -- we seem to like our corruption at the upper echelons.
  • by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:50PM (#18791047)
    The administration (not just this one but any one in the future) can call up the CIA/FBI, tell them that they have reason to believe you are a terrorist and you will be put in jail with no access to a lawyer, no phone call, no trial, nothing. You will stay there indefinitely.

    All that has changed is the label:

    Before terrorists, it was desegregationists.
    Before desegregationists, it was communists.
    Before communists, it was anarchists.
    Before anarchists, it was unionists.
    Before unionists, it was feminists
    Before feminists, it was secessionists
    Before secessionists, it was abolitionists
    Before abolitionists, it was transcendentalists.
    Before transcendentalists, it was restorationists.
    Before restorationists, it was monarchists.

    Before you worry about losing your rights, stop for a moment and ask if you ever really had them in the first place. The world changes much more slowly than it appears.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:01PM (#18791183)
    I don't know what grounds they would use in court to oppose it, but then again, I'm not an expert in Constitutional law.

    But you're probably right that the law will get repealed before a court challenge gets very far. That's really the point of some states moving to oppose the law, to get it repealed, but it does involve calling the bluff of Congress, which could prove very damaging to the residents of those states if the bluff fails.
  • Re:About Time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:20PM (#18791397) Homepage Journal
    I've walked in Los Angeles, as well as in Chicago. In Los Angeles, stepping out on the road even in a crosswalk when you have the walk signal is essentially betting your life on the skills and hubris of the drivers of all kinds of vehicles -- private cars, vans, trucks, public transit buses, whatever. In Chicago, it takes some practice to get in the general hang of things, but jaywalkers and vehicles have what seems to be a symbiotic rhythm, with far less apparent danger in Chicago than in LA.

    Even the police take note of this. In LA, you can get a fairly large fine for jaywalking, while twice in a matter of a few days, I saw people (one pair, one group of about ten) cross in front of a CPD cruiser and the cops didn't show any suggestion that they noticed. The cruisers never had to slow down below their speed (probably around 30mph) because they crossed early and quickly enough, but it was still very puzzling to me as someone from SoCal who is not used to cars and people working in a synchronous operation.
  • Re:About Time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by real gumby ( 11516 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:32PM (#18791537)

    Too late. It's already being used indispensibly as an ID, so it wouldn't function just as well without that information.
    I don't know what's so indispensable about it. I don't carry one. Over the past year I have not found a lack of "official photo ID" to have prevented me from doing anything except obtain cell phone service or fly internationally. Domestically I can travel as long as I submit to the upper-colonic treatment...which used to happen to me anyway (why?) so hardly makes my life more difficult. Admittedly I haven't tried renting a car, but otherwise I live your usual busy life.

    People often ask, but when I politely[*] indicate I don't have any they seem to find a way to do business with me anyway.

    I do have a DL but it's buried in my car someplace. If I were stopped I could probably find it. And if the car were stolen and stripped, well, then someone would find it too. Big deal.

    Why dodge the question of whether a national identification card is a good idea or not, when that is the central issue?

    Because the essential point that driving is unconnected with identity might be seen as partisanly driven. But in fact, that common confusion is an ontological confusion which screws up rational debate by short-circuiting it.

  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:40PM (#18791649) Journal
    Montana did not ratify Prohibition, nor did Montana law enforcement enforce Prohibition within Montana's borders.

    The Montana Constitution includes the following clause: Section 33. Importation of armed persons. No armed person or persons or armed body of men shall be brought into this state for the preservation of the peace, or the suppression of domestic violence, except upon the application of the legislature, or of the governor when the legislature cannot be convened.

    This has been used, in the recent past, to limit federal law enforcement incursions into the state, a fact which has been credited with being responsible for the group known as the Montana Freeman being arrested (by the Montana police, who wished to prevent another Waco-type incident), without a shot being fired. This means that Montana does not feel that the feds have the unlimited right to do as they please in Montana, or to Montanans.

    A resolution has been passed by the Montana legislature requiring federal law enforcement that wishes to do anything in Montana to act through the appropriate local sheriff. The intention is to eventually give this the force of law. This tends to signify Montana's sovereignty as a state, as well as its willingness to stand up to the feds.

    And, for a passport, you do not NEED a photo ID if you can get a citizen to whom you are well known to vouch for you. You'll also need some other paperwork, but you CAN get thru without a driver's license.
  • by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <falconsoaring_20 ... minus cat> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @10:55PM (#18792555)

    At one point, the Democrats were the party that was solidly behind states' rights and the Republicans were all about centralized power.

    Actually at first there was the Democratic-Republican party [] which Thomas Jefferson was a member of. Back then the other major party was the Federalist Party [], then some of it's members became members of theWhig Party [] and others joined the Democratic Party.

  • Re:YES! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:09AM (#18793287)
    >I don't even know where my birth certificate is!

    I have you beat! By Ontario law I cannot have a legitimate birth certificate as I'm adopted. If I were a citizen of the USA now, I would be legally unable to comply with a rule like that. I know other governments won't except the nearly playskool-alike one adopted people here get, since I was refused UK citizenship because I didn't have a "real" birth certificate. Both of my parents are british and this would normally be an automatic "gimme" in those cases. Oddly enough, it was the UK that technically passed this law (circa 1927), as this law is older than Canada's "separation" from the Monarchy. It is legally impossible for me to get a proper birth certificate, or even a statement of live birth (well, with the law change in effect here now, I will be able to get that in a few months).

    So, what will the USA do for the people in my situation that are living there now?
  • As a Native Montanan (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:53AM (#18793643)
    now living in Brooklyn, this makes me proud. I hope that other states follow Montana's lead and flip D.C. the bird on this one. C'mon, New Hampshire, you know you want to. "Live Free or Die" and all that.

    It's interesting, isn't it, that a general rebellion against federal overreach seems to be brewing. In 2006 a number of states across the West passed medical marijuana laws only to have Bush claim they couldn't do that. Yes, a guy from the "state's rights" party claiming that states don't have the authority to regulate that which the Constitution clearly says they do.

    Then you have the various states and municipalities across the country now passing pollution laws that are stricter than federal regulations because "someone has to do something about climate change."

    Wonder if the un-funded mandate of No Child Left Behind has added any fuel to the fire...

    In any case, I sincerely hope the states do get together and whack D.C. on the nose. The centralization of power in this country is out of control and anti-thetical to effective representative government.
  • by eheldreth ( 751767 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:25PM (#18799723) Homepage
    I worry that the Article 4 section 1 of the constitution could be interpreted to mean congress has the right to force states to adopt real ID. The article states that congress can enact laws to prescribe the way records are proven between states. I wonder if they can use that to force this issue on states.

    Article. IV. - The States
    Section 1 - Each State to Honor all others
    Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:45PM (#18800067) Homepage Journal

    We need an Amendment that defines "interstate commerce" and "necessary and proper" in a way that matches both the original intent of the words as well as plain commmon sense, instead of letting it mean the radical thing that the courts redefined it to mean.

    It's absolutely ludicrous that the various states' rejection of Real ID, federal decisions about what doctors are allowed to prescribe, etc, is somehow viewed as defiant or objectionable. It's simple democracy, and it's not cool that our distant rulers in DC are working against that.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama