After nearly eight years of refusing to implement the REAL ID Act of 2005, Utah has flip-flopped and will now participate in the unconstitutional national ID program.
In 2010, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill into law prohibiting the state from implementing or participating in the Real ID Act. At the time, the legislature found that the enactment of the Real ID Act:
(a) is inimical to the security and well-being of the people of this state;
(b) will cause unneeded expense and inconvenience to the people of this state; and
(c) was adopted in violation of the principles of federalism contained in the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
By signing the bill into law, Herbert approved these findings. But judging by his recent actions and those by other elected officials in Utah, something must have changed over the last eight years. What was unconstitutional and unacceptable suddenly became A-OK!
On Dec. 6, Herbert tossed aside his promise to preserve and protect the Constitution and signed a bill (SB3002) repealing the 2010 ban on implementing Real ID. The new law also sets up a process to make the state’s driver’s licenses federally compliant.
Sen. Wayne Harper (R-Taylorsville) and Rep. Eric Hutchings (R-Kearnes) also ignored their oaths of office and sponsored the legislation. The Senate passed SB3002 by a 25-0 vote. The House approved the bill 47-23.
Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 and Pres. G.W. Bush signed it into law. The act essentially mandates a national ID system that states must implement.
Constitutionally, the federal government lacks any authority to create a national ID. But the feds won’t let something like constitutional limitations stop them from doing what they want. Congress simply ignored its delegated powers and implemented national ID standards anyway.
But things didn’t go smoothly after the passage of REAL ID. States rebelled for several reasons, including privacy concerns and the fact that Congress didn’t provide any funding for the mandates it expects states to implement. Many states simply chose not to act. Several others, such as Utah, passed laws expressly prohibiting compliance with the national ID standards.
Under the law, all states were supposed to be in compliance by 2009. But the federal government found coercing unwilling states wasn’t as easy as anticipated. Instead of forcing the issue, the feds issued waiver after waiver.
“There is an impasse,” Edward Hasbrouck a privacy advocate with the Identity Project told the New York Times. “There has been a standoff for more than a decade now. The feds have limited powers to coerce the states in this case.”
Ten years after passage more than half the states in the Union had not complied with REAL ID.
But in 2016, the feds ratcheted up their bullying tactics, specifically threatening to stop accepting noncompliant licenses at TSA security checkpoints. This would effectively ground travelers from states that refuse to comply with the unconstitutional national ID scheme. Currently, the federal government says it will fully enforce Real ID effective in October 2020. At that time, you will have to have a compliant license to fly commercially or access a federal facility.
Instead of standing their ground, politicians began to cave. Idaho reversed its ban on Real ID implementation in 2016. Oklahoma followed suit the next year. At least six other states reversed course during this time period. Missouri lifted its ban on Real ID in 2018.
The lesson here is that relying on politicians to nullify is a failed strategy. People like Gov. Herbert will turn on a dime when opposing the feds is no longer politically expedient.