REAL ID: Rolling over rights

Day 10: August 10, 2012

An on-again, off-again affair with national ID card

Congressman Dennis Rehberg, a former gymnast, knows how to take a tumble. On this, the final day of the Rehberg Games, we take a look at Congressman’s Rehberg’s regretful support of the REAL ID Act, the unpopular national identification system that rolls over the privacy rights of law-abiding Montanans. Jon Tester—like Montana Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents alike—has consistently opposed REAL ID.

ON AGAIN: Rep. Rehberg helped pass Real ID into law.

In 2005, Congressman Rehberg voted to pass the REAL ID Act, a law creating a national identification system and taking away states’ rights to issue individual IDs [Los Angeles Times, 5/31/05; HR 418, Vote 31, 2/10/05]. According to the Associated Press, Rehberg thought REAL ID “was what most Montanans wanted.” [AP, 4/17/07]

OFF AGAIN: After voting it into law, Rehberg found out Montanans opposed REAL ID and claimed he “was not told of the opposition”

In 2011, Rehberg even admitted REAL ID was a “really bad idea,” adding, “I’ve had to do a lot of repentance myself over the years.” [Montana Lincoln/Reagan Dinner, 2/10/11]

BOO, HISS: Rehberg’s primary opponent in 2010 agreed REAL ID was a bad idea, pointing out that Rehberg failed to listen to Montanans.

“[Republican U.S. House Candidate Mark] French pointed to Rehberg’s 2005 vote in favor of the REAL ID Act, which would have standardized state-issued driver licenses and ID cards, as an example of Rehberg not listening to his constituency. The Montana Legislature voted unanimously in favor of a resolution condemning REAL ID. Rehberg said that that was a mistake on his part. ‘If I had known of the animosity or the opposition to the REAL ID, I would not have voted for it,’ Rehberg said. ‘I was not told of the opposition until after the vote.’” [Great Falls Tribune, 5/19/10]

ANALYSIS: Backpedaling won’t win any race.