The state-federal showdown on the REAL ID Act is going through its long slow build. REAL ID would have states issue nationally standard IDs (read “national IDs”) by May 2008. Numerous states have passed bills and resolutions rejecting REAL ID, what with its $17 billion (net present value) costs, administrative hassles, and privacy/security threats for state residents.
The hook the federal law uses is that drivers’ licenses and IDs from non-compliant states won’t be accepted for federal purposes after the May 2008 deadline. From a ComputerWorld story:
“I think residents of states that choose not to comply are going to be displeased with their leadership’s decision when we get closer to full implementation,” a DHS spokesman said. “They’ll no longer be able do certain things that carriers of state-issued drivers licenses take for granted today.”
But the main thing the federal government uses state-issued IDs for is airport checkpoints (even though they’re not technically required). When the REAL-ID day of reckoning comes, federal officials will be standing in the way of American travelers. Accordingly, federal officials will take the heat. Accordingly, the federal government will back down.
In fact, the feds will back down before it even comes to that. The outcome in this game of chicken is easy to predict.