For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Bill Introduced To Repeal Failed Real ID Act

Bill Would Protect Civil Liberties And Drivers’ License Security


In a welcome move today, legislation was introduced in the House of
Representatives to repeal the discredited Real ID Act of 2005. The REAL
ID Repeal and Identification Security Enhancement Act of 2009,
introduced by Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN), would repeal Real ID
and replace it with the original negotiated rulemaking process passed
by Congress as part of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Twenty-five
states have already rejected Real ID, citing its high cost,
invasiveness and the bureaucratic hassles it creates for citizens.

”Real ID is essentially dead. It’s time for it to be
formally repealed and replaced with a process that works, one that
protects civil liberties and license security,” said Michael
Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative
Office. “Rep. Cohen took a big step forward by moving to eliminate this
failed law and providing much-needed safeguards for our civil

The Real ID Act of 2005 directs states to issue a
federally-approved driver’s license or other form of ID that would be
necessary for airline travel and become part of a national database.
Like state governments from coast to coast, the American Civil
Liberties Union has long opposed the Act as too invasive, too much red
tape and too expensive.

Fifteen states have passed binding legislation
prohibiting participation in the Real ID program: Alaska, Arizona,
Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire,
Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Oregon, and Missouri.
Ten other states have enacted resolutions in opposition to Real ID:
Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North
Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee.

Similar to the Akaka-Sununu Senate bill of 2007 and the
Allen House bill of 2007, Rep. Cohen’s bill would eliminate most of the
requirements that laid the foundation for a National ID card, such as
the obligation that all data and systems be standardized. The proposal
also requires a collaborative approach, called negotiated rulemaking,
which would advise the Department of Homeland Security on how to
maximize driver’s license security while minimizing the administrative
burden on the states. This approach was initially adopted by the law
which implemented the 9/11 Commission recommendations and subsequently
repealed by Real ID. Significant privacy protections in the proposal
include prohibiting the use of license data by third parties,
encryption of the data and adherence to state privacy laws that may
provide greater protection. Additionally, Rep. Cohen’s bill would also
provide for the establishment of a negotiated rulemaking committee,
which would present its recommendations to the Department of Homeland

”States and ordinary Americans have all rejected a
National ID card,” said Christopher Calabrese, Counsel for the ACLU
Technology and Liberty Project. “Now it’s time for Congress to follow
their lead and finally get rid of the Real ID Act by passing Rep.
Cohen’s bill.”

To learn more about the Real ID Act or read about its history, visit



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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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