Of Veils and ID cards

An article on CNN follows the story of a Florida woman who has been refused a drivers license because she will not submit to being photographed without her veil.

Florida maintains that it is a matter of security that the drivers license (which also serves as the equivalent of an ID) has a valid photograph in order to prove the identity of the licensee.

The plaintiff maintains that her guarantee of religious freedom gives her the right to drive without having to pose for a photograph with her full face showing.

Despite wondering if this is just some kind of theatrical stunt in the beginning, I'm left pondering exactly why it is the state needs to have valid photographs of all of its citizens who are licensed to drive.

It would seem to me that if the photograph on the license isn't sufficient to provide compelling evidence that the person is who they say they are, then the person's identity will need to be investigated further.

If you consider that the primary purpose of a drivers license is to provide a license to drive and not to serve as an ID card, much less a mandatory state- sponsored ID card, then it makes little sense that there is any reason to require a picture on a driver's license.

Don't get me wrong, if you don't have one, then the card can't act as any useful form of identification, and therefore it would be reasonable that you would be required to prove your ID in some other form. However, that would require a compelling interest, either by you or by the state) to provide valid identification. If you are arrested, then it seems reasonable that the state would want to know who you are. If you want to buy something or gain access to a secure facility, then you have an interest in providing some form of ID that is at least as irrefutable as a driver's license with a photo on it.