We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Live free or fly*

Apparently they are exclusive alternatives. According to Wired:

Maine is now the lone state not to have been given an extension to long-delayed Real ID regulations, after three fellow protesting states – Montana, New Hampshire and South Carolina – got their extensions in the last two weeks despite not pledging allegiance to Real ID.

What was it Maine in particular did to offend? There is no clue. One might suspect being the easiest to blockade has something to do with it. Bullies like to pick on the weakest victim when making an example.

Assuming no actual bombs get on the plane, then it scarcely matters who the passengers are – particularly since the rules did change in one important respect on September 11th 2001 and few are likely to sit quietly and do what a hijacker says, as they were advised to before that date. If someone could explain to me why any identification at all is needed to board a plane – other than that the government just wants to know where you are going – then I’d be most grateful for the explanation.

[* Yes I know that is New Hampshire, but presumably it is in the line for the DHS's third degree.]

12 comments to Live free or fly*

  • Millie Woods

    I don’t think Maine residents will take this without a murmur. After all this is a state which advises motorists on the Maine turnpike to stay in lane in inclement weather! Inclement weather in this age of dunderheads – I love it.

  • I’m waiting to see how Maine (and other states) elect to challenge this in court. I’m thinking Full Faith and Credit claim, a Art 4 Sec 2 “privileges” claim, A 9th amendment “right to travel” challenge, and a 10th amdendment challenge.

  • the other rob

    If someone could explain to me why any identification at all is needed to board a plane – other than that the government just wants to know where you are going – then I’d be most grateful for the explanation.

    Much of the ID charade at airports is driven by the airlines, for revenue protection reasons. Otherwise, rather than waste a non-refundable ticket, you might give it to a friend or relative.

    Incidentally, according to a chap I was sat next to once (who’s in the trade, as it were) there is huge market in ticket resale in India, despite the ID checks. He claimed that this was due to so many people having the same name, when written in western, latin form. Apparently, one can find ads where, in addition to the flight details, the pax name is also listed. “Anybody called Sanjay Patel want to fly to Delhi?” style of thing.

  • Laird

    No one really knows why the Department of Homeland Security gave South Carolina (where I live) the extension. There is speculation that our Senior Senator, Lindsay Graham, was responsible, although I have my doubts. It is clear that the governor did not request it; he send DHS a very good letter outlining all the issues we have with that law, and specifically stating that while we are already 90% in compliance with its substantive features (screening drivers license applicants for legal residency, etc.), he was opposed to many of its features not the least of which is the federal government’s maintaining a database of all our private information. My opinion is that in this stare-down DHS “blinked”.

    I personally wrote a letter to the governor encouraging him not to request the extension, and suggesting that he have the state initiate a lawsuit challenging this law. He did the former, and I still hope he does the latter (either alone or in conjunction with one of the other non-compliant states). We need to nip this in the bud.

  • Doug

    As long as there’s a TSA or similar government entity responsible for terminal security (and it’s another discussion as to whether there really should be), they’re going to have an obligation to know who’s getting on a plane, minimally for screening purposes.

    I don’t suspect that private security arrangements would be much more lax, either. After all, airlines and airports alike have insurance premiums to pay. Letting any random sod who can get a ticket on the plane isn’t likely to be a practice smiled upon by actuaries, and airlines would probably require screening by any airport they service.

  • As a resident of New Hampshire, I would be upset about this, except that the state being bullied is … well, Maine. Heh. Maine. (If you lived next door to the place, you’d understand why).

  • Paul

    First they came for Maine…

  • The step after having to prove who you are before the Government allows you to travel, is having to have Government permission to travel.

  • Much of the ID charade at airports is driven by the airlines, for revenue protection reasons. Otherwise, rather than waste a non-refundable ticket, you might give it to a friend or relative.

    No, I don’t buy it, at least no more than a little bit. I have often bought non-refundable train tickets (for which the same argument would surely apply), and nobody has ever asked me to provide ID to catch a train. Often the tickets have been completely transferrable and haven’t specified the name of the traveller at all. (The exception is perhaps the Eurostar between London and Paris, but even in this case the only ID checks I can recall were at the immigration desk). It may seem hard to remember now, but it was fairly easy to travel in the US on a ticket in someone else’s name even 10 years ago.

    In Australia, where one again the same argument would apply, it is quite easy to fly without showing ID. You buy a domestic ticket, don’t check any luggage, and either checkin online or at one of those machines in the departure terminal. There are usually no ID checks at security or the gate, so you just go through onto the plane. The security checks themselves are fairly strict, but there is not usually an ID check at the same time. There are certainly laws in case specifying that you carry ID, but checks are minimal. It may vary a bit from airport to airport, but I have flown quite a few times in the last couple of years without showing ID at all. The first time it happened I was quite surprised, as after all the travel in Europe and the US I have done in recent years it felt quite strange.

  • CaptDMO

    Let’s see.
    Maine is unique for a few reasons.
    A large land and maritime boarder with Canada.
    A strategic point for international flights “in trouble”.
    A brand new imported Somalian Muslim population. (as does New Hampshire near it’s border with Massachusetts, and Logan Airport)
    And Maine will issue Drivers license/Non driver ID to just about ANYONE with scant regard to actual legal residence.

    And, a lot of open space where folk who want to live “off the radar” can get by as long as they can cope with freakin’ cold, and lot’s of snow. (hi Al)

    Don’t give The Governor of NH too much credit for
    brokering an eleventh hour “extension” to national Real ID provisions, it’s against the NH law to enjoin such a measure. One of the few measures of late that was actually put before “The People” to decide. with pencil and ballot.

  • R. G. Newbury

    “I’m thinking Full Faith and Credit claim, a Art 4 Sec 2 “privileges” claim, A 9th amendment “right to travel” challenge, and a 10th amendment challenge.”

    And how about a First Amendment right of assembly and anonymity argument? Plus a re-visit of John Gilmore’s action about ‘secret laws’, but avoiding the jurisdictional problems.

  • Laird

    Those are all the obvious bases for an action, and I hope someone (SC or some other state) brings it. Still, don’t get your hopes up. When was the last time the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated any federal law on the basis of the 9th or 10th Amendments? Oh, that’s right: never. As a practical matter they are dead issues.

    I think our best bet is for someone to bring such an action and hope for a reasonably friendly trial court which would enjoin the government from enforcing the Real ID Act until the case can be heard, and then through the appeal process. We might lose at the Supreme Court level, but this would buy time for some real public debate about the issues it raises. As you may recall, there was absolutely no debate in Congress over this law, since it was tacked on as a rider to the Hurricane Katrina relief bill, which no one wanted to slow down.