Well, the spending bill that contained the RealID act passed unanimously in the Senate the other day and was signed into law by GW. The law doesn't take effect for three years so there's still a chance it can be stricken and there does seem to be some opposition but I can't say that I'm very optimistic at this point. The bill was ostensibly to "support the troops" by sinking another 80 billion dollars into the quagmire that is Iraq (along with additional funding for Afghanistan and Tsunami Relief). As if those issues weren't divergent enough, here's another little gem contained in the bill:
"SEC. 102. WAIVER OF LAWS NECESSARY FOR IMPROVEMENT OF BARRIERS AT BORDERS.
Section 102(c) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1103 note) is amended to read as follows:
`(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.
`(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court, administrative agency, or other entity shall have jurisdiction--
`(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or
`(B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision.'"
In human speak, this basically says that the Secretary of Homeland Security is above the law as long as he says his actions are meant to rapidly build fences around "the home of the free". How's that for superpowers?
Woops, upon further checking it appears that someone came to their senses and had this modified to make it slightly less omnipotent. The bill now reads:
`(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive all legal requirements such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section. Any such decision by the Secretary shall be effective upon being published in the Federal Register.
`(2) FEDERAL COURT REVIEW-
`(A) IN GENERAL- The district courts of the United States shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear all causes or claims arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1). A cause of action or claim may only be brought alleging a violation of the Constitution of the United States. The court shall not have jurisdiction to hear any claim not specified in this subparagraph.
`(B) TIME FOR FILING OF COMPLAINT- Any cause or claim brought pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall be filed not later than 60 days after the date of the action or decision made by the Secretary of Homeland Security. A claim shall be barred unless it is filed within the time specified.
`(C) ABILITY TO SEEK APPELLATE REVIEW- An interlocutory or final judgment, decree, or order of the district court may be reviewed only upon petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States.'."
Nevertheless, it's still pretty far-reaching.
All I can say is, I can't wait to move to a country where backhanded politics like this face much more resistance than what the TV-sedated masses in this country seem to be able to conjure.
Towards that end, I'm flying to London on June 6 and will be coming back on July 20 but hopefully only for long enough to pack my things and move on to my next big adventure. While over in Europe, I'm planning on going to see my sweetie in Germany, scoping out places in Spain, and hopefully catch up with a few other amigos while I'm over there. I can't wait.
Just wanted to urge any of my fellow Americans that care about your privacy to go check out this and please, please, if it makes you as mad as it does me, take a moment to let your representatives in Congress know about it here. The vote is tomorrow so time is of the essence. More on the subject can be found and here and here.