Wednesday, July 20, 2011

About the Social Security Number as a form of ID

I had a chat with a law buddy of mine this morning on the above topic.  He pointed out two court cases that seem adverse to Ron Branson’s SSN for driver license issue.  Ron refused to give a Social Security Number to California DMV authorities so they refused him a driver license.  He wants to fight and win this issue because he has a religious conviction against divulging his SSN.

To summarize my thoughts consequential of the discussion, I believe Ron will fail when fighting this issue in court.  
  1. First, an array of courts decided against those with positions similar to his.  These concluded in the 9th US Circuit, and in the US Supreme Court, cited below.  
  2. Second, his position simply makes no sense.  An ordered society enjoying ordered liberty has to have common rules relating to identifying its citizens positively and uniformly.  The SSN serves that purpose when coupled with data on the driver license.  
  3. Third, People must prove driving competence and knowledge of traffic laws prior to operating dangerous vehicles.  Each state has the obligation properly to qualify its driving citizens so people will feel confident of their safety in the presence of out-of-state drivers.  That principle remains true for international drivers.  By driver, I mean anybody operating a potentially dangerous transport vehicle of any kind, irrespective of whether in or not in commerce.  No exceptions can exist for religious beliefs or practices.

I might suggest that Ron Branson move from California to Florida because Florida has religious right protection specified in Statute Chapter 761 (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998).  California doesn't.  However, I think he'd lose his battle in Florida too, for the above reasons.

 My discussion notes:

This case shot down all claims based on privacy, religious freedom.  Involved man from El Cerrito, Donald Miller, who wanted to renew driver license, and refused to reveal SSN because of religious convictions.  Also shot down right to travel.

 See that hybrid rights theoretically could open the door to the issue, but Reed dispensed with it in this case.  Miller advanced the issue of interstate  travel.  The right to travel does not confer any no specific right to drive a car, limousine, plane, or other particular vehicle.

Ordered liberty requires uniform identity laws; states move in that direction.

Use of Peyote caused loss of job.  Scalia said nobody has right just to invent a religious practice as justification for violating law.   Law neutral to religion still valid even though it addresses a practice used in some religions.  Decision in hybrid rights 21 years ago.  No single decision shows hybrid rights were established and got around Smith.

Hybrid  Right - two or more concrete rights that factually affect you.  Example.  Oath.  Religious freedom; Thomas v review board of Indiana employment security div 1981; free speech  based on WV Board of Public Instruction v Barnett 319 US 64 (1943)- jehova witness and pledge of allegiance. Fifth amendment not discriminate.  Privacy right (remotely applicable).

·         Procedural due process right to notice and be heard
·         Substantive due process limit of government power - fairly new, but PUTS government back in its box.  Rights married to substantive due process puts limits on the sovereign gov't.

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