April 4, 2005
The Honorable Rick Santorum
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
RE: Real ID Act of 2005
Dear Senator Santorum:
I am writing with respect to the Real ID Act of 2005, which was passed in the House of Representatives as H.R. 418 and which will likely be considered shortly by the United States Senate.
The Philadelphia Bar Associations Board of Governors, on behalf of the Associations 13,000 members, unanimously passed a resolution opposing this legislation on March 31, 2005.
We share concerns that have no doubt been expressed by many others. These include: (1) our concern that the Real ID Act of 2005 will be a major step toward implementation of a uniform national identity card, will nullify Pennsylvania laws and regulations that govern drivers licenses, and will override the cooperative approach between federal and state governments that is called for under the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004; (2) our opposition to raising the legal standards for asylum and for other forms of relief by disregarding decades of established law on burden of proof and standards of evidence in asylum and similar cases; (3) our opposition to the changes in habeas corpus law that would be imposed by the Real ID Act of 2005.
There is an additional concern that has not received much attention in the media but which we believe merits your careful scrutiny. It relates to the property rights of all American citizens. Section 102 of the Real ID Act purports to allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to set aside or waive all laws that would, in the Secretary�s discretion, interfere with his ability to seize property in any zone within 100 miles of any United States border. This includes a large swath of land in Pennsylvania. Seizure of land without regard to law and due process violates principles of judicial supremacy and due process.
In one paragraph � Section102 � the Real ID Act would effectively overrule the letter or the spirit of Marbury v. Madison, the Steel Seizure Cases, and the provisions of the Constitution barring seizure of property prior to judicial review of the right to seize and barring the quartering of soldiers. All this in one sentence of a bill that would be passed as part of an appropriations bill -- without a single hearing! No guardian of our property rights or of our laws should allow this to happen, and we urge you to oppose the Real ID Act of 2005.
Andrew A. Chirls