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November 2011
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If there’s a federal law, they have to enforce it, right?

Wrong.

Meet Real ID, as described by the ACLU in The Slow, Quiet Death of Real ID

The Real ID Act of 2005 is a federal law, and, as a federal law, supersedes state law.

If fully implemented, the law would facilitate tracking of data on individuals and bring government into the very center of every citizen’s life. As happened with Social Security numbers decades ago, use of such ID cards would then quickly spread and be used for other purposes — from work to voting to gun ownership. Other groups opposed Real ID because of its high cost (more than $23 billion by initial government estimates), cumbersome bureaucracy and impact on religious minorities.

Because of all these problems instead of compliance, Real ID faced widespread opposition. States rebelled. They had already taken steps to strengthen licenses after 9/11 and Real ID would undo that in favor of an expensive one-size-fits-all federal solution. So instead 25 states, either through a statute or legislative resolution, rejected Real ID. In fact, in 15 states it is actually illegal for state officials to comply with the federal law.

Wait. States actually passed legislation saying not to follow federal law? Yes.

So the feds cracked down, right?

No. It would be too unpopular and expensive to do so.

So instead DHS has chosen to postpone implementation over and over again. The final implementation date has been moved from May 2008 to December 31, 2009, then May 11, 2011 and is now January 2013. DHS itself acknowledges the moribund state of the law. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has said as much and the department also has only four full time employees working on Real ID

Naturally, it’s harder to derail something as entrenched as federal drug policy, but it does go to show that the will of the people and the states still have power even against a powerful federal government that unreasonably wishes to push a misguided legislative agenda.

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20 comments to If there’s a federal law, they have to enforce it, right?

  • Classic Pete… that’s right there with reduction in tobacco use succeeding thru ejumikashun.

    Thanks, a highly usable point!

  • I can’t find a news story on it but there’s a tale floating around out there that appears true… it seems in Otero Co., NM, Sheriff Benny House threatened federal officials with arrest on kidnapping charges if they arrested anyone for tree cutting (it seems there’s a chainsaw rebellion out there… (?)

    [yeah… it’s raw US logs being exported that needs protesting. Horsepuckey I say! That’s the kind of low dollar giving away of native resource that must end. Every raw log means that another US log mill didn’t cut it and those folks on green chain better expect a(nother) thin Christmas… and Thanksgiving and new years and the kids’ birthdays…]

    Anyway… that we DO stand up against the feds is a great point and one politicians like WA state gov Gregoire should be aware of… how many more instances of this are there? There are at least a couple of Oregon sheriff’s who love the “it’s federal law” line and need to be called on it.

    • googling local officials defy federal draws a million and a half hits… hmmm… dang… it seems local officials have defied the feds on the Patriot Act, immigration, education, Secure Communities, land use, prayer…

      hmmm…

      And didn’t the local LE in Santa Cruz not back up the feds when they raided the Corral/WAMM garden?

      hmmm…

      • DdC

        The Santa Cruz Sheriff was the arbitrator in releasing the DEA’s van with the “evidence” after/if Val and Mike were released from jail. They were, and the locals unblocked the road and let them leave unharmed. The Sheriff was scolded for not arresting the DEA but I don’t think anyone believed that was even possible let alone Constitutional. Which it was. The Sheriff was also pissed that the DEA didn’t inform his office before the raid. I think that was the third raid. When I got here in Jan 1990 doing hospice work the cops never said a thing. Like today they only bust Commerce. Even if it’s WAMM’s charity pot given away. If it’s an exchange its Feds. States and Sheriff’s busted her several times before this last one, after prop 215. Not individuals, just if it’s Commerce. They have a WAMMfest every year and recently, maybe separate. A Harvest Festival went off without a hitch. I’ve heard of local Cannabis Cup judging contests. It boils down to manpower. I’d wager most of the busts are by state LE’s, even if it;s Federal offences. In states without safety measures like prop 215.

        History: the Infamous 2002 Raid by DEA on Santa Cruz Dispensary WAMM

        As the agents went about destroying some 130 plants up in the middle of nowhere in the San Lorenzo mountains, twenty or more WAMM members – none of whom pay for their medicine – barricaded the sole route off the property, a narrow mountain road.

        First they blocked the road with a truck. Abandoning that strategy, they retreated a bit further to make their stand at a gate to the property, a heavy chain soon padlocked around the gate. Not that the woman in a wheelchair or the stout one with a cane could have physically overmastered the agents, should it have mano a mano come to that. But WAMM also called in the media, and soon several TV news cameras and print reporters stood by hoping for a confrontation.

        The Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana

        I think the Fed’s perked their ears up after WAMM started getting notoriety…

        Inside the Remote Farm That Supplies WAMM – 04/17/00

    • Windy

      The States are using the 10 Amendment to nullify federal laws they don’t like. They SHOULD be using it to nullify ALL the unconstitutional laws the feds pass. What too many Americans fail to understand is that federal law does NOT supersede State law, the federal government, Constitutionally, is subservient to the States, the States created the federal government to do a few specific things — the enumerated powers — the federal government has no authority to exceed those enumerated powers, nor to create crimes, nor to have its own law enforcement agencies.
      Unfortunately, at this point in time, that fact is moot since the federal government has done all of that without a peep from SCOTUS, the States or the People. But the People can use their States to restrain the federal government by passing laws that make federal laws null and void.

      As for Sheriff, your Sheriff is the highest level of law enforcement in your county, outranking every other law enforcement agency including those unconstitutional federal agencies within the boundaries of your county, and yes your Sheriff absolutely CAN arrest other law enforcement in your county for their acts against citizens or property of the county, that is why you need to make absolutely certain you make your vote for the right person in the election of your Sheriff, s/he is supposed to be answerable only the people of his/her county and act only in their interest.

      • Windy

        I tried to edit that first sentence but it didn’t save, it should have read “The States are lawfully using the 10th Amendment . . .”

  • darkcycle

    I’ve been saying this for years and people look at me like I’m crazy. The laws that are on the books that they DON’T enforce (including old statutes like sodomy and misogyny)or choose to ignore, or not allocate resources to prosecute, rivals the number of laws they DO enforce. The President can eliminate the ONDCP with a waive of his hand, and with an executive order, end the prosecution of drug offenses overnight. All that money that congress allocates with the stipulation it may only be spent on drug enforcement, will be re-allocated and sent elsewhere in a week. The whole Beast could be eviscerated in a month.
    It’s true, and when it happens, when the drug war ends, (although I’ll acknowledge it may not happen that way) it will happen so damn fast all of us won’t get to read Pete’s post about it before it’s a fait accompli.

  • Mr.Wiggle

    to defy federal law ,means you support terrorist.YOUR STATE DOESN’T SUPPORT TERRORISM? DOES IT??

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      Terrorism is the product of religionism Wiggle dude. Arguments over who has the best, most omnipotent imaginary friend are the cause of that nonsense.

      Religion is associated with hijacking airplanes and flying them into skyscrapers, killing thousands of innocent banksters peacefully going about their business looting the collective resources of the everyman.

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .
        It’s good to see there are some people who still support the banksters.

        • damaged justice

          If you’re referring to whoever voted you down, that would be me. I do not believe “religion causes terrorism”, I think it’s a simplistic and divisive statement at best, and I’d rather have a peaceful, honest believer for a neighbor any day than a douchebag atheist.

  • Jhelion

    Prohibition $upport$ terrorism, and my state supports prohibition….

  • ezrydn

    To defy Federal Law could also make you a Patriot. What if Congress ruled you had to pay King George taxes? It’s Fed Law! You’d comply???

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      Well I’d have been in an alternative Universe if Congress was worried about KG3’s proclamations. Were the entire basis of reality different we certainly wouldn’t apply the reasoning of this reality, so how the heck could I determine how I’d react? Sheesh, what would I have done if we had elected KG3 POTUS1 instead of GW? How would things have been different if Karl Marx had been the Governor of New York in 1555? If everything were different, we’d probably be Canadian.

  • MaineGeezer

    My understanding is that states are not obligated to enforce federal law. States can’t pass a law conflicting with a federal law, but a state does not have to make marijuana illegal at a state level just because it is illegal at a federal level, and state law enforcement personnel do not have to help the feds enforce federal laws if they choose not to.

    This happened during alcohol prohibition. Several states repealed alcohol prohibition at a state level. As far as the state was concerned, you could drink. It was still illegal at a federal level, and the feds could come into the state and enforce alcohol prohibition, but the state could decline to assist.

    Of course, the feds could not begin to enforce alcohol prohibition at a local level, they had to depend on local law enforcement to do it. It would be interesting if, say, California legalized MJ at a state level. Would the feds come in and try to enforce federal laws against MJ? Suppose ten states did it? At what point would the DEA run out of agents?