The Real ID Act establishes minimum federal standards for the production and issuance of state-issued driver’s licenses. The Department of Homeland Security is implementing the Real ID Act through an enforcement schedule that sets out a timeline of where and when noncompliant state-issued driver’s licenses would be recognized for federal purposes in order to force states to comply.
Under the enforcement schedule, Massachusetts residents faced having their driver’s licenses not federally accepted from April to October of 2014. Currently, Massachusetts has an extension until October 10, 2016 to comply with the Real ID Act, causing Massachusetts driver’s licenses to be temporarily acceptable for federal purposes. This has created an abundance of uncertainty amongst residents of Massachusetts about the future validity of their driver’s licenses. Unfortunately, this will only become more problematic for Massachusetts residents in the future as the enforcement schedule eventually expands to cover all federal facilities and federally regulated commercial aircrafts.
The Real ID Act enforcement violates both the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to travel and the Tenth Amendment. Massachusetts’ option to comply with the Real ID Act risks the sanctions that affect its residents’ right to travel. Specifically, if Massachusetts does not comply, its residents will have to live with the uncertainty regarding Massachusetts driver’s licenses and whether or not they will be valid in the future for travel on commercial airlines. Thus, it is a choice that essentially leaves no choice.
Jacqueline A. Miller, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—THE REAL ID ACT: VIOLATING MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS’ RIGHT TO TRAVEL AND THE TENTH AMENDMENT, 38 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 127 (2016), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol38/iss1/4