State legislature should reconsider Real ID act

Deborah Mitchell - Contributing Columnist

Deborah Mitchell

Contributing Columnist

I heard something on the news that made me a little irritated.

Okay. More than a little irritated. We Missourians may no longer be able to use our drivers’ licenses as identification when we fly on domestic flights.

In 2005, The Department of Homeland Security required, as a response to the 9/11, attacks, that states change their personal identification cards, such as driver’s licenses, to comply with federal identification standards, which were designed to keep us safe by keeping potential terrorists off planes.

According to, “The 2005 Real ID Act set tougher requirements for proof of legal U.S. residency in order for state driver’s licenses to be valid for federal purposes. Missouri was among several states that fought back by passing their own laws prohibiting compliance with Real ID.”

The states have had 10 years to comply with the Act or ask for exemptions. Exemptions have been granted in the past, but the Department of Homeland Security didn’t extend an exemption for Missouri and four other states past Jan. 10.

I don’t get it. The Missouri legislature has passed a law that specifically defies a federal mandate designed to combat terrorism, which has the result of making things more difficult for Missouri citizens. According to The Kansas City Star, two legislators who voted for the measure in 2009 said the requirements tended toward the possibility of citizens’ having to carry a national ID card.

The Star said this: “The establishment of national ID standards, critics say, will increase pressure on Americans to carry an ID when entering office buildings, buying prescriptions, using credit cards and myriad other activities. That not only would create a data trail of activities, it would give added leverage to a government agency that issues a card” (ttp://

Please. I have to show an ID when I enter the Federal courthouses in Jefferson City and Kansas City. My clients cannot take their phones into those same buildings because of security. I have to have an insurance card or other ID to buy my prescriptions because of the possibility of people selling their prescription medications on the street. My credit card company tells me that rather than signing my credit card, I should make the store clerks ask for my ID to assure my identity, as well as my credit card, haven’t been stolen. Our court documents require a person’s name, social security number, and driver’s license number.

Our cellphones, the Internet and Facebook store incredible amounts of information about us, so that should we look for a sweater on a website one day, an advertisement for that particular sweater company appears on our Facebook feed the next. We create Hansel and Gretel data trails willingly and knowingly every day by going about our usual business.

Missouri’s legislature says it has its citizens’ interests at heart; however, Missouri citizens may now have to produce passports to fly on domestic flights. Passports are expensive, and they take a long time to get – because a passport applicant has to go through a federal background check. I got my passport 10 years ago, and at that time, the cost was $60, plus the cost of the photo. Now the cost is more than double that. That’s a lot of money for a family of four or five who want to go on vacation and have only five days off work, making driving a hardship.

Several Missouri lawmakers have recently made the news by saying Missouri should not accept Syrian refugees because to do so would be unsafe; those refugees might be terrorists. It makes little sense, then, not to require stricter identification guidelines as set out in the Real ID Act. The legislature could lean toward safety by complying with the Federal law.

I think I understand the entire issue, but maybe some piece of information has eluded me as I have done my research. If that is so, I hope to be educated as to what I am missing. However, until that time, I believe Missourians deserve and should require that their legislature reconsider the Real ID Act and pass the needed legislation.

Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.

Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.

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