Issue Research: Election 2008 | Globalisation | National Security

Mike Huckabee Supported Real ID Act

Former Arkansas Governor and current presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, supported the implementation of the REAL ID Act in 2005.

Mary Benoit
John Birch Society
February 4, 2008

In a letter to Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, then-Governor Mike Huckabee wrote in support of the Real ID Act. The letter states, in part: "we want to reemphasize our commitment to working with you to implement the REAL ID statute."

Others are not as eager to see final implementation of the measure succeed. The Real ID act, has proved to be very controversial, especially among state legislators who realized that the states would carry much of the financial burden in order to implement the 2005 law.

Since both houses of Congress passed the act in 2005, more than half the states in America have either passed or proposed legislation that would oppose the act in some form. Why? The Real ID act would require every citizen to obtain a standard driver's license, linked by a national database, if he or she wanted to board an airplane or train, or enter a federal building, to name just a few examples. Several lawmakers have paralleled the Real ID act to implementing a national ID card, and argue that it would place unnecessary restrictions on American citizens. (Click here, to learn more.)

Another major factor driving opposition is the heavy financial burden Real ID would impose on the states. States would be forced to spend millions of dollars just to implement the program. Some states, such as Massachusetts, argue that Real ID could cost the state in access of some $150 million!

Why would Mike Huckabee support such a law that many of his colleagues have opposed, either because of the heavy state financial burden, or because it creates a national ID and threatens our right to privacy? His October 6, 2005 letter recognized some of the problems with the act but Huckabee agreed to work with Secretary Chertoff to "develop reasonable and effective standards and procedures that can truly create a more secure America."

Nearly three years after the Real ID act was passed by Congress, there is little evidence of how such a law would protect American citizens from security threats. Instead, lawmakers and public activists are more concerned about how the act would place limitations on the American people by implementing a national ID card, equipped with intrusive biometric features, which would be financed primarily by the states, and would place severe limitations on any person or state that refused to accept the federally-mandated law.

Opposition to the Real ID act has been successful as the deadline for implantation of the provisions have been delayed by the federal government. Nevertheless, the Real ID act remains a source of controversy among many of the states. Several grassroots organizations, including The John Birch Society, have opposed the Real ID act and would like to see the law repealed by Congress. Another major opponent of the flawed law is the American Civil Liberties Union which recognizes that implementing the Real ID act would do "nothing to combat terrorism, and puts us at greater risk for invasions of privacy and identity theft."

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