Archive for the ‘sovereignty movement’ Category

The U.S. needs to re-examine all [Real ID] policies and evaluate them on their privacy-protection and gendering implications, and then scrap any one of them that prevents innocent people from moving around freely. This war on an abstract noun is no excuse for denying anyone their freedom of mobility.

How “counter-terrorism” denies trans people freedom of movement

By Quinn Albaugh for The McGill Daily
Published: Nov 3

It’s uncontroversial to argue that everyone should have freedom of mobility. However, at present, American trans people have their freedom of movement restricted compared to other Americans.

The recent focus on “counter-terrorism” in law enforcement and government agencies has severely limited trans people’s freedom. In the name of the War on Terror, the U.S. government has increased restrictions on identity documents, which are necessary for trans and cis people to drive, fly, cross borders, or engage in many kinds of movement. Following September 11, the Bush administration asked all states to tighten laws about changing one’s gender marker on driver’s licenses. Additionally, according to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, “in local jurisdictions, procedures for changing your name have been made more difficult.” Whether or not identity documents are as important for “national security” as the U.S. government has suggested, these policies unduly deny trans people access to various modes of transportation, since many trans people’s gender presentation will be in flux at one moment or another.

Perhaps the most terrifying new policy regarding identity documents has been the Real ID Act, which essentially creates a de facto national ID card out of state driver’s licenses. This act entails massive and particularly threatening violations of trans people’s privacy. For example, the National Center for Transgender Equality states that in 2008, the Real ID’s guidelines mandated that all state driver’s licenses contain a bar-code that would hold information on gender and name changes – information which would out trans people against their will. Thankfully, this provision was removed, and several states have passed laws stating that they will not comply with the Real ID Act. However, even under the more recent version – or under a proposed alternative bill called PASS ID – states would have to store birth certificates and other identification digitally, which could still out trans people at borders, airports, and even during routine traffic stops. The fact that this remains an issue under the Obama administration shows that we can’t just blame Bush for this policy – this requirement is part of a wider social perspective on what’s “necessary” or “acceptable” in counter-terrorism tactics.

Additionally, in 2003, the U.S. government advised airports to be suspicious of “men dressed in women’s clothing.” This directive limits the ability of many kinds of trans people to present themselves as they choose while travelling. They are forced to decide between their freedom of movement or their authentic gender presentation. As far as I can tell, a case involving a cross-dressing terrorist has yet to materialize; if it had, the news coverage of such a momentous occasion would have been inescapable. This argument parallels the right-wing strategy of countering trans non-discrimination laws by arguing that, if we pass such laws, we’ll see (male) sexual predators “invading” women’s bathrooms. In both cases, the justification for policies that allow discrimination against trans people is “protecting” people against an invented bogeyman. Unfortunately, these strategies have proven to be effective.

The “no-fly” lists that U.S. government agencies have developed are the most recent attempt to reduce freedom of mobility for trans people. In August, the Transportation Security Agency enacted new policies requiring airlines to check whether people are on these “no-fly” lists. The new policies also require all passengers to provide their gender and date of birth to whomever is booking their ticket. These restrictions come on the heels of regulations put in place in May that require passengers to use their legal name exactly as it appears on their ID. There is no oversight of how these private individuals use information about a passenger’s gender; it’s entirely possible that airlines and travel agencies may store this information in a database, which could make it difficult for trans people to determine on their own if they want to out themselves while travelling – someone else will have power over that information.

The U.S. needs to re-examine all of these policies and evaluate them on their privacy-protection and gendering implications, and then scrap any one of them that prevents innocent people from moving around freely. This war on an abstract noun is no excuse for denying anyone their freedom of mobility.

Quinn Albaugh writes for The McGill Daily every week. Tell ’em about your cross-dressing terrorist sightings at:

There’s a growing movement on the part of states to override federal laws and regulations under the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers to the states not delegated to the federal government. So far, the battle lines have been drawn at Real ID, medical marijuana and firearms, but federally mandated health insurance may not be far behind.

State sovereignty resolutions were introduced in 37 states this year; seven passed. Although the resolutions are not legally binding, Tenth Amendment Center founder Michael Boldin said they “serve notice” that states will no longer automatically enforce federal mandates in areas they believe the central government has no constitutional authority.

Montana’s first-in-the-nation law reasserting state authority with the regulation of firearms manufactured and sold within state boundaries was soon followed by a similar law in Tennessee. Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have already sent letters to gun dealers and federal permit holders in both states telling them to ignore the state law. A court battle is next.

Nearly 20 other states have similar legislation in the works, including directives to their governors to order National Guard troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Next year, Arizona will have a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that allows residents to opt out of any national health care program.

“The federal government doesn’t rule to limit its own power very often. I don’t think going to court and trying to litigate is the best way to put the federal government in a constitutional box,” Boldin said, pointing out that popular resistance to the hated Stamp Act led by Revolutionary War heroes Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry “effectively nullified the law.” The same thing happened with the Real ID Act, which many states refused to enforce. “The feds had to back off three times,” Boldin said.

State sovereignty supporters stand on solid historical ground. James Madison’s “Virginia Plan,” which would have given Congress veto power with state laws and allowed the federal judiciary to hear all disputes, was soundly defeated by the signers of the Constitution. A needed check on an overreaching federal government that grows bigger by the day, the reassertion of state sovereignty should be a welcome development to Americans concerned about losing their liberties — just like the Founders were.

“The founders and the people who ratified the Constitution wanted the most important decisions, the most difficult ones, handled close to home. So, whether you’re a supporter of medical marijuana in California, or gun rights in Tennessee, or gay marriage in Maine, or opposed to Real ID in Missouri, you’re a supporter of these principles that the founders so wisely passed on to us.”

By Bill Thompson c/o 

Some Florida lawmakers are seeking to hit the reset button on the U.S. Constitution.

On Wednesday nine House Republicans, including two who represent Marion County, added Florida to a long list of state legislatures that are resurrecting a states’ rights push to re-establish the balance between the federal government and the governed.

These initiatives against federal encroachment, now filed in more than three dozen states, are rooted in the 10th Amendment, which fences in federal power by mandating that the states and the people control public policy unless the Constitution specifically denies them such jurisdiction, or delegates such authority to the federal government.

The Florida lawmakers in their paperwork, known as a memorial, argue that “many federal laws are in direct violation of the Tenth Amendment,” whose limits on Washington “established the foundational principle that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states.”

“And yet,” they add, “currently the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government.” :: MORE::