ACLU: TRU ID process not in compliance with state law

NEWARK – New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission violated state laws when it pushed through federal license requirements with the proposed implementation of the new TRU-ID licensing program, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

The ALCU announced Monday a Superior Court judge approved the group’s petition to have the new license program – which was slated to go into effect today – delayed while it is challenged in court.

The civil liberties group argues the MVC violated New Jersey’s Administrative Procedure Act, which requires new rules and regulations to undergo a period of citizen review. The MVC should have, at a minimum, posted public notices regarding the TRU-ID program to allow state residents to weigh in, the ACLU argues.

“They didn’t have an open process (and) they didn’t allow for democratic input,” said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU of NJ, during a Monday morning news conference at the group’s office in Newark.

The TRU-ID licensing program is the state’s version of new federal licenses – dubbed Real ID Act – that will be required to board airplanes and enter federal buildings.

Twenty-five states have opted out of Real ID, including 15 states that made the implementation of Real ID licenses illegal in the respective state.

The state tried to implement the program “under the radar,” said Ed Barocas, legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey.

“The Constitution and the laws of New Jersey require that whenever an agency passes rules that affect the rights of citizens, that there’s a certain process they have to follow,” Barocas said. “The new system imposed requirements that do not exist under current New Jersey law or regulations.”

The ACLU filed its petition Friday at 10 a.m. in Trenton. The petition was heard before a judge at 3:30 p.m., Barocas said.

The ACLU opposes the federal government’s national implementation of the new ID system. It argues the program, which was drafted following the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks, violates everyone’s right to privacy and opens them up to identity theft.

The state chapter said it was able to temporarily block New Jersey’s implementation because of “a technicality,” Jacobs said.

“It’s a technicality we call democracy,” she said.

The injunction will remain in effect until at least Aug. 3, at which time the ACLU is slated to appear in court to present oral arguments.