by Derek Sheriff

In spite of the fact that the Constitution was recently read in its entirety (minus a few sections and amendments), for the first time in the history of the House, several senior Republicans must have either been absent or just weren’t paying attention to what they were hearing. (No) Surprise! 

Less than three months after the historic reading, they were back to business as usual — the business of usurping more power from the states and consolidating it in Washington, DC.  House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano,  demanding she not extend the May 11 deadline for the states to comply with the federal Real ID Act.

In spite of the hysterical warning contained in their letter, the Obama administration wisely decided to do for a third time what the Bush administration was forced to do the first time when many state governments simply refused to comply with the act’s unconstitutional requirements — extend the deadline again.

Anticipating that the Obama administration would again back down to avoid conflict with the states, the letter asserted that the recent arrest of a terrorist suspect in Texas, “..underscores the importance of the immediate implementation of REAL ID.  Any further extension of REAL ID threatens the security of the United States.  We cannot understand how you could even contemplate a further delay – a delay that places American lives at risk.”

Homeland Hypocrisy
The real but greatly exaggerated danger of terrorism is a tried and true method of scaring Americans into giving the federal government a free pass to circumvent the Constitution. But how ironic that this time, one of the GOP chairmen who sent this letter was none other than Homeland Security Chairman Peter King! If you’ve heard how King spent decades raising money for the US-based Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID) and speaking at their events, you’ll understand.

NORAID, the US Justice department long suspected, was merely an arm of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), and both British and American intelligence reports seem to support that suspicion. In a recent article about King and his involvement with NORAID, investigative journalist William N. Grigg brought to many people’s attention what Ed Maloney, well known for his coverage of the PIRA, wrote in the New York Sun back in 2005:

“During his visits to Ireland, Mr. King would often stay with well-known leaders of the IRA, and he socialized in IRA drinking haunts. At one of such clubs, the Felons, membership was limited to IRA veterans who had served time in jail.”

So the King who demands that Real ID be shoved down our throats to supposedly protect us from Islamist terrorists, is the same King who raised funds for NORAID, which almost certainly went to support another terrorist organization that murdered Americans abroad. The 1983 bombing of Harrods department store in London, was carried out by the PIRA and killed six people and injured 90 others. Among the dead was a 28-year old American named Kenneth Salvesan. And among the injured was another American named Mark McDonald, whose wounds were very severe. Margaret Thatcher wrote to Ronald Reagan immediately after the bombing to demand that he crack down on NORAID, the organization that King supported for so long.

Why States Must Continue to Nullify the Federal Real ID Act
Besides the hypocrisy that usually accompanies homeland security smoke and mirrors, is the fact that nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government authorized to set standards for state driver’s licenses and ID cards. Of course today’s state issued licenses and ID cards didn’t exist when the Constitution was drafted, but both before and after its ratification, the states had the authority to create such documents, since they retained all powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution that were not prohibited to them by it (see 10th Amendment). If members of Congress are truly convinced that federal standards for state issued ID cards are necessary for the security of the United States, then they should propose a constitutional amendment. Of course, the vast majority of the people who make up our so called “federal” government have long behaved as if they’d never heard of the Constitution, or what Jefferson called it’s cornerstone — the 10th Amendment.

And what about the enormous costs associated with Real ID? While it’s true these outrageously expensive mandates have again reared their ugly head right at a time when many states face a severe budget crisis (the primary reason given by DHS for the most recent extension). Even if big budget surpluses were the norm among states these days, it would be no excuse for state governments to shirk their duty by submiting to an act of usurpation like Real ID. In spite of the decision many House Republicans have made to indulge in situational constitutionalism (the obnoxious habit of supporting the Constitution only when it is likely to result in a policy outcome one happens to favor), a far greater number of Republicans and Democrats in state governments across the country have chosen a more honorable path — that of state interposition and nullification.

Given that Real ID is both an expensive and unconstitutional act that threatens privacy, freedom and federalism, 25 states over the last several years have, according to the Tenth Amendment Center’s legislative tracking page:

“..passed resolutions and binding laws denouncing and refusing to implement the Bush-era law..While the law is still on the books in D.C., its implementation has been ‘delayed’ numerous times in response to this massive state resistance, and in practice, is virtually null and void.”

James Madison, the chief author of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights wrote in 1798 that when the federal government exercises powers not authorized by the Constitution, the states, “..are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”

Many state officials have faithfully carried out Madison’s admonition by rendering the Real ID Act null, void and without force within their state’s boundaries.  Now it’s up to us, the people of the several states, to remind them often, between now and the next deadline in January of 2013,  that they need to keep it that way.

Derek Sheriff
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