July 6, 1998
The Honorable Rodney E. Slater
Secretary of Transportation
United States Department of Transportation
400 Seventh Street, S.W.
IN RE: National Identification Cards (Docket No. NHTSA-98-3945)
Dear Secretary Slater:
We write to voice our strong objection to your Department's proposed rule implementing section 656(b) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Docket No. NHTSA-98-3945). This rule, if implemented, will require states to follow several specific procedures to reduce fraudulent duplication of state-issued identification cards.
This proposed rule constitutes an expansive mandate for states, with a cost estimated at more that $70 million in its first year alone, with annual costs thereafter possibly exceeding $50 million. This massive cost is reason enough to halt implementation of your proposed regulation in its tracks.
Further, this entire effort to force the states to implement a massive federal program suffers from serious constitutional problems making a successful court challenge both likely and desirable. As the United States Supreme Court held in New York v. United States, if "a federal interest is sufficiently strong to cause Congress to legislate, it must do so directly; it may not conscript state governments as its agents." 505 U.S. 144 (1992).
The Court strengthened this view in Printz v. U.S. holding that "[t]he Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States' officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty." 117 S.Ct. 2365 (1997).
Finally, and most importantly, this proposed rule goes far beyond congressional intent, raising serious privacy and civil liberties concerns. It was never the intent of Congress to mandate a nationally-standardized identification card. In fact, the law in question explicitly provides that it does not authorize the establishment of such a card.
In proposing such a sweeping, expensive, cumbersome and unconstitutional rule, the Department of Transportation has gone far beyond the clearly expressed intent of Congress. We demand that you withdraw this proposed rule immediately, and clarify that the federal government is in no way authorized to mandate standardized, state-issued identification.
We look forward to a speedy reply. Thank you.
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