Montana Enacts 'Declaration of Independence' From Real ID

Affiliate: ACLU of Montana
April 17, 2007 12:00 am

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Governor Signs Nation’s First Statutory Rejection Of Act

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the Montana legislature and Governor Brian Schweitzer for enacting the nation’s first flat-out statutory rejection of the Real ID Act, which seeks to create a backdoor national identity card system by federalizing state driver’s licenses. Montana’s action was the latest and strongest step in an ongoing rebellion against the act in states across the nation.

“In January, the state of Maine held a ‘Boston Tea Party’ when they became the first to declare their opposition to Real ID by passing a resolution,” said Tim Sparapani, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Today Montana has taken that rebellion to an entirely new level by issuing what amounts to a ‘Declaration of Independence’ from the act.”

The Montana law declares that the state “will not participate in the implementation” of Real ID, bans the state’s Motor Vehicle Division from implementing it, and directs the agency to report to the governor any attempts by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “secure the implementation” of the act.

“Governor Schweitzer and Montana have taken a bold and admirable step by rejecting this misguided law,” said Scott Crichton, Executive Director of the ACLU of Montana. “In the face of supposed threats that our citizens’ right to travel would be curbed, we stand firm and declare loudly that this legislation is not good for the people of our state and we refuse to participate in it. I am very proud of our state and the legislators who reached across the partisan divide to pass this bill without one dissenting voice.”

The Montana legislation is a decisive escalation of a growing state rebellion against Real ID:

  • Maine and Idaho have both passed resolutions rejecting participation in Real ID, and Arkansas recently passed two similar anti-Real ID measures.
  • Binding legislation similar to Montana’s is awaiting the governor’s signature in Washington.
  • Thirteen more states have passed anti-Real ID legislation through at least one legislative chamber, and bills have been introduced in 12 additional states.
  • In Congress, several bills to fix Real ID have been introduced, including strong proposals by Senators Akaka and Sununu and Congressman Tom Allen.

“Montana’s decisive stand adds further momentum to the Great Real ID Rebellion of 2007,” said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “The whole scheme is premised on creating uniform national identity papers; when a state like Montana tells the federal government to take a hike, it brings down the whole house of cards. If there was ever any question that Congress would be forced to revisit this misguided law, there is no more.”

A map showing the status of anti-Real ID legislation in the states is available at:

Comprehensive information about Real ID, including links to the Montana legislation, is available at:

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