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Away From Home

Monday, July 18, 2005

DHS raises costs of driver's licenses

The Department of Homeland Security's proposed security measures will raise the cost of getting a driver's license:

In the name of homeland security, motorists are going to see costs skyrocket for driver's licenses and motor vehicle offices forced to operate like local branches of the FBI, the nation's governors warn.

The new federal law squeezed this spring into an $82 billion spending bill had Republican and Democrat governors fuming at their summer meeting here, and vowing to bring their complaints to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff at a Monday meeting.

"It's outrageous to pass this off on the states," said Republican Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, incoming chairman of the National Governors Association. "You're essentially asking the front-line clerks at the DMV to become an INS agent and a law enforcement agent."

This, to me, echoes the Brady Bill. The Brady Bill imposed a waiting-period and background checks for people who wish to purchase guns. However, the national background check system was not in place yet, and wouldn't be for several years, so the Bill said that until the national system is functional, states have to do the checks for them.

The Supreme Court struck that down as unconstitutional. It violates "dual sovereignty" -- the notion that power lies in both the federal and state governments. If the federal government can require states to enforce its laws, then we no longer have a limited federal government.

This is why we have the FBI and federal prosecutors, even though we already have state police and county prosecutors.

Further, if the federal government could enlist states to enforce its laws, it would be unaccountable for its actions. Think about it -- imagine that you're in line at the DMV (a state agency), and the DMV clerk tells you that you can't have a driver's license because your background check hasn't gone through yet. The federal government is requiring them to do the background checks, but who are you going to be upset with? Most people will blame the DMV, holding the state accountable for the federal law.

I think the Homeland Security driver's license mandates are unconstitutional, just like the temporary provisions of the Brady Bill.


  • Another example of the gov't reacting without thinking it through. They have done the same to the banking industry - we have to "police" our customers to make sure they aren't terrorists. Possible, but highly unlikely here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/18/2005 07:57:00 PM  

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