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Beladonna
QUOTE
Best of AD Award Winner: Best Topic, Big Trials and Legal Cases, 2002-2003


Background: ph34r.gif

Sultaana Freeman, an American-born Muslim woman, lost her license after she refused to remove her veil, or hijab, for a photo. Now she is suing the Florida State Department of Highway Safety for violating a Florida statute that says the government "shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion."

Freeman's civil suit, which is expected to go to court May 27, draws on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

But Florida authorities say the world changed after Sept. 11. After learning that 13 of the 19 hijackers allegedly obtained licenses in Florida, authorities cracked down on the system, hoping to ensure that the DMV photos could remain one of the primary tools used by law enforcement officials for identification.

The showdown, in which Freeman is asking a court to reinstate her license, pits her interpretation of Islam, a 1,400-year-old religion, against Florida authorities struggling to keep law enforcement from falling behind.

user posted image

The Plaintiff's Case

To rebut the state's case, Freeman is expected to call a number of religious experts to testify about the significance of the veil in the Muslim religion.

Before Sept. 11, Freeman had a Florida driver's license with a photo of her in traditional garb. She also had one in Illinois, where she lived before.

Marks is also seeking to show that his client has been singled out, when, he claims, hundreds of thousands of Florida residents are issued drivers licenses without photographs each year. "They issue them for a myriad of reasons," said the lawyer. "If they have such a compelling state interest that everyone must have a license with their photograph on it, then why do they have all of these exemptions on it?"

The lawyer says he has precedent on his side, citing three cases brought by Christian sects that believed the second commandment prohibits photographs. And 14 states, not including Florida, have built in exemptions to deal with such religious objections to photographs.

The State's Case

Jason Vail, the Florida assistant attorney general handling the case, says a victory for Freeman could damage one of the most important law enforcement mechanisms in the country, the official license photograph.

"The case has major implications for the integrity of driver's licenses around the country," he said. "If you allow exemptions from it for reasons like this, people who have a religious objection to taking photographs at all could ask for them too."

http://www.courttv.com/trials/freeman/back...ounder_ctv.html

Do you believe the State of Florida is infringing on this woman's religious rights by requiring her to unveil for a driver license?

Do you believe this woman's religious beliefs could infringe on our nation's security?

Are there other methods that could be used to capture identification on driver licenses?
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Danya
I'm sorry but I don't think this woman is being persecuted for her religion. She's simply expected to submit to the same guidelines as everyone else to qualify for her license. Driving is not a right it's a privelege. She needs to decide what's in her best interest...take the picture and drive or hold to her strict religious teachings and use public transportation.

What's the point of taking the picture if your face is covered up anyway? Commen sense should dictate here and the state is right.
Rancid Uncle
She can wear a veil whenever she wants. She just shouldn't get a driver's license. If paying taxes is against her religion she still must pay them.
unabomber
I'm kind of split on this. while telling her she must remove her face cover is violating her 1st amendment right, they use the picture to confirm with a glance they ID belongs to you (hard to do with just the eyes) I have to go with remove or lose privlege of driving. (besides, I thought fundamentalist muslims forbade women driving, among others?)

as far as national security, I see no real link(unless it's cause she's muslim, which is racial profiling)

there are other means of capturing ID's on drivers licsence, such as finger printing(here in colorado)unfortunatly you need a fingerprint scan pad for cops that is portable and cheap. it is not an especially viable option, and I don't think all states use make you give a print when getting ID.
Abs like Jesus
"Do you believe the State of Florida is infringing on this woman's religious rights by requiring her to unveil for a driver license?

Do you believe this woman's religious beliefs could infringe on our nation's security?

Are there other methods that could be used to capture identification on driver licenses?"


The first thing that strikes me is the bit about national security. If a person is really a threat to national security, what would their getting a driver's license really accomplish for them or those viewing it? If they're on an FBI list will they use their real name or, as so many terrorists seem keen on doing, will they list an alias?

As for religious rights, I'm leaning with unabomber towards "remove it or lose it." However, if it is true that other people are being granted the right not to have any photograph on their license -- for religious reasons or otherwise -- then I think she should also be allowed to cover her face for the photo. If the state wants to take away her license, I fully expect and endorse taking away the license of any other person who refuses to adhere to the standards set by the state. Consistency, please.

There are other methods, but none of them are as simple or cost effective as a quick photo. Until there is we're stuck with the photos and the requirements set by the Department of Transportation.
DaytonRocker
I didn't realize the Constitution protected our right to have a driver's license.

The driver's license requires a photo so nobody can pass the license off to someone else (which is safer for us). But she chose to invoke her right of freedom of religion.

How can she compare a Constitutionally protected right with a privilege and give them the same "weight" in court? The framing of this issue makes it sound like the license and 1st amendment are of equal consequence and it's up to a court to decide who wins.

This is ridiculous. If she doesn't like our requirements to have her picture taken to be able to drive, find another mode of transportation.
GoAmerica
QUOTE(beladonna @ May 27 2003, 12:53 PM)
Do you believe the State of Florida is infringing on this woman's religious rights by requiring her to unveil for a driver license?

No. She has to remove her veil so that he face can be identified for the license. That is the whole purpose of a driver's license. I don't see how this is a violation of religious rights. She don't like it, buy a bike.

Now, if she was denied a license because of her religon, say the DMV said "nope, you're muslim, no license for you", than that would be an infringment on her religious rights

QUOTE
Do you believe this woman's religious beliefs could infringe on our nation's security?


Nope. Unless, of course she's an al-queda agent & doesn't want her face on a picture where the CIA can identify her.
Abs like Jesus
QUOTE
Marks is also seeking to show that his client has been singled out, when, he claims, hundreds of thousands of Florida residents are issued drivers licenses without photographs each year. "They issue them for a myriad of reasons," said the lawyer. "If they have such a compelling state interest that everyone must have a license with their photograph on it, then why do they have all of these exemptions on it?"

I haven't found anything on this yet, but as I tried to allude to in my previous post, I think the woman has a case if they aren't revoking the license of other Florida drivers without photos on them.

I'm assuming everybody would like to see some consistency and not have people running around with licenses sans photo ID. Nobody has really addressed this aspect of the case, though, so I thought I would draw attention to it for future posters.

By the way, excellent opening post, beladonna. biggrin.gif
AuthorMusician
Seems to me that Florida is our problem child state. Having set precedent with allowing others to have non-photo driver's licenses, including this woman, hands her the damning argument that, hey, what changed?

I know that driving is supposed to be a privilege and all, but the state can't revoke what was once allowed without good reason. At least I would hope it can't.

This argument that the world changed after 9/11 doesn't hold water. Oh, and can the state define just how the world changed? What legislation happened, and under what circumstances, to change the way the state grants driving privileges?

Do you really think a driver's license photo will help law enforcement to nab terrorists? What, is someone going to drive a Chevy into the levy, causing all sorts of havoc?

I suppose truck bombs would be a possibility. Did Tim McVeigh have a photo license?

Let's say he did, so did that act as a deterrent? Or did it help in the investigation? Also, how many women terrorists have used vehicles to carry out the dastardly deed? A-hah! Do women who do suicide attacks get to go to heaven? Get a bunch of male virgins? I think not!

In any case, my take is that 9/11 has not changed the world as dramatically as law enforcement would want us to believe. The terrorists did not win. We have not become a restrictive society like many in the ME and the former USSR. At least I hope we haven't. Or have we become a bunch of cowards?

Obviously, since this woman had a Florida license before, she is just getting the thing renewed, which is simply paying extra tax to keep a privilege. The rules changed, arbitrarily and without sound reasoning. Now her privilege is being revoked arbitrarily and without sound reasoning.

Unless we start to think that fear is sound reasoning, in which case the terrorists have indeed won, and the world is truly a different, worse place than before--the USA has disbanded.

Eh, who liked all that freedom anywho.

As far as an alternative to photos for ID, the answer is obvious--and chilling: DNA.
Danya
I agree with you that nothing's changed since 9/11 and that the attacks or the fact she's Muslim should have nothing to do with the decision about the picture. But I disagree with the fact that their past errors cannot be corrected. It makes no sense to take a picture of someone for identification purposes who is covering their head and most of their face...making it impossible to identify them.
ID's are used for more than just driving. How does she cash a check for instance? If they allowed this before 9/11 it was just as stupid then as it would be to continue doing now.

Everyone should be required to take an unobstructed picture with no exceptions for anyone.
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Beladonna
More information about the testimony yesterday.

http://www.courttv.com/trials/freeman/0527...2703am_ctv.html

The state of Florida does issue temporary driving permits without a photo, but on the bottom of the permit it states, "Not to be used for identification purposes." There were a little over 4,000 permanent driver license issued without photos. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to hear the reason why, but I am trying to get that information.

I don't believe that framing this as 1st Amendment Rights vs. National Security is too strong. Here's a couple of things to consider:

Mrs. Freeman has been convicted of a felony in the past. That was brought to light in the trial as was the fact that her mug shot was taken without the veil. Wouldn't you, as a LE officer want to know if the person behind the veil was in fact the person who was a convicted felon?

Another thing that couldn't be brought up in the trail but was talked about by the court TV commentators was that her husband was also convicted of a felony. They didn't state what the felony was BUT they (almost in the same breath) stated that when law enforcement entered the home they found multiple driver licenses with his picture on them under multiple names.

It seems to me this issue could be a matter for national security. Contrary to some of you, whose opinions I highly respect, I DO believe things changed on 9/11. A group of religious radicals decided to attack our country killing 3,000 people. Now a woman who practices the same religion (not saying she is a radical) is trying to obtain a nationally recognized form of ID that doesn't show her face. She could use this DL to travel anywhere in this country, LEGALLY. If the state of Florida loses this case we MAY open up the door to those who DO have an agenda.
Eeyore
A photo id is very valuable for a terrorist. I am not saying this lady is a terrorist, but if we are going to allow non-identifying pictures for driver's licenses then we are defeating the identification purposes.

In a state that cannot count votes or create clear ballots, I do not see DNA testing to be an option.

While this may be an intrusion into some Muslim women's view of their religious rights, the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution must be measured against each other. Here, the ability to determine someone's identity is important because failing to do so provides a loophole for terrorists and other criminals in hiding their identity.

It would be nice, perhaps, if some way of accommodating Muslim women who want a drivers license and feel strongly about being veiled could be arrived at. But we use identity cards in too many ways to allow them to provide inadequate proof that the bearer is who he portrays himself to be.

This is a tough and unfortunate issue for Ms. Freeman, but she should have to make the accomodation here. Is the veil important enough to her to not hold a driver's license or proof of identification? She also would have to forfeit some travel rights I would suppose if she chooses to refuse to take a full face photograph.
Danya
Even if she were being targeted it isn't like she doesn't have a criminal history. IMO, this is less about her religious beliefs than about circumventing the system.

QUOTE
Freeman acknowledged she was photographed without a veil after her arrest in 1998 in Decatur, Ill., on a domestic battery charge involving one of the twin 3-year-old sisters who were in her foster care.

The Associated Press reported that the children were removed from her home. Child-welfare workers told investigators in Decatur that Freeman and her husband had used their claims of religious modesty to hinder them from looking for bruises on the girls, according to Decatur police records.

*snip*

The Associated Press reported that the children were removed from her home. Child-welfare workers told investigators in Decatur that Freeman and her husband had used their claims of religious modesty to hinder them from looking for bruises on the girls, according to Decatur police records.

*snip*

''We have had this law in place for many, many years, so there has been no change since 9/11,'' Lambert said.

The picture is crucial for police officers who want to know who is driving a car, whether that person has been reported missing or is a criminal, officials say.

A driver's license, ''is no longer just a driving permit,'' Lambert said. ``It has become the No. 1 identification document.''

*snip*

As a mother of children ages 6 months and 2, being unable to drive has caused a ''great deal of stress,'' Freeman testified. ''It has changed my life really,'' she said. ``I feel like a prisoner in my own home.''

*snip*

Freeman, in a written statement, said her veiling is her practice of the Koran's insistence on modesty, ``the ultimate in self-respect and feminism, as this liberating act sent a message that I am not an object of sexual fulfillment, but a person of strong religious conviction.''

On the witness stand, Freeman said she has no photos in her house. When she buys an item like cereal that has a person's photograph on the box, she crosses off the face with a magic marker.


Miami
Julian
I'd say that wearing the veil is not an across-the-board Islamic requirement. Many Islamic women do not feel the need to wear them, and are no less Islamic for that (think Benazir Bhutto, for one).

If this requirement is part of a particular Islamic sect that she belongs to, which interprets the Islamic Sharia law especially harshly, then the State has plenty of arguments. For example:
a) Sharia law is a legal interpretation in part based on Islam, but based as much, if not more, on specific Arab cultures. If can be shown to be more cultural than religious, then it isn't really a First Amendment issue, and she should remove the face veil or lose her licence.
cool.gif If Sharia law is wholly religious, why is her interpretation of it that she should be able to drive, but should not show her face? In Saudi Arabia, the only state that currently implements Sharia law to its full extent, she would be able to wear the veil without fear of discrimination, but she would not be allowed to drive (no women are, under this interpretation of Sharia law).
c) Sharia law is not law in the Western sense, but interpretations of scriptures, including (but not limited to) the Quran, by Muslim clerics, all of whom have different views. For every clerical witness she could call that says she must keep the veil on, the State should be able to find one that says she doesn't have to wear it at all.

She can still wear clothing that defines her as Muslim - a burqa and headscarf, neither of which obscure the face, are enough for the majority of devout Muslim women. Frankly, I think her demand that she should be allowed the wear the veil on her drivers' licence is mischevious at best.

But if biometrics proceeds at current rates, the argument will be moot withint ten years, as identification will come from a retinal or iris scan, or some other non-photographic method. So she will be able to wear a bucket on her head if she likes, as long as there are holes for her eyes (which, one would hope, will be necessary for her to drive at all anyway).
DaytonRocker
Good grief...this problem is not that complicated. It's not terror...it's not religion...it's public safety for Pete's sake!

Even though driver licenses are not to be used for identification, the reality is, they are in many ways. A picture keeps this very-special-person-who-should-get-different-treatment-from-the-rest-of-the-world from passing her license off to some 16 year kid who gets hammered and hits my car head on.

The picture helps the cop that pulls her over make sure that, yep...it's her who is licensed and not her veiled sister who has crappy driving skills.

The picture helps make sure the people we tested before allowing them to drive 3 tons of steel at us 75 miles per hour on the other side of the road are the ones we licensed.

There are certain things we have to do to increase public safety. We get our eyes examined to make sure we can see ok before we drive. Suppose a religion prohibits that type of science? Do we let the blind drive?

We're not allowed to drive while intoxicated and can be tested for that if there is probable cause to believe we're under the influence. Suppose a religion prevents that type of medical testing? Do we let the veiled lady drive drunk?

We need to make sure we can read traffic signs and understand the right-of-way. When we give blood, the blood is tested to make sure it's not diseased. The list goes on and on.

Get a bike.
AuthorMusician
Well, felonious acts are one thing. Mug shots are another, and a picture ID is yet another issue.

I question the validity of the photo for ID purposes. Most are rather crude, low-resolution pieces of do.

What counts is the license number, which in some states is your SS number, another issue all together.

The officer stops you. He or she takes your license into the squad car, looks up the number for any outstanding warrants and so on. Another thing gets looked at in many states (not sure if all): the vehicle's registration.

Between these two chunks of evidence, the relevant information can be found. Is this person wanted for a crime? Does this person own the vehicle? If not, does this person have permission to use the vehicle?

I understand the sensitivity many citizens still hold about Muslim people. However, the issue here is just a photo ID. It has been pointed out, indirectly, that these things can be forged rather easily, and so the usefulness is in question. I'm just pointing out that the photo doesn't carry much weight when establishing the identification of a person.

Fingerprints have been brought up as an alternative. I think, with the well-developed technologies available to scan and look up fingerprints, that this may be a viable way to go. Yes, it will cost money, and police departments are short of that right now. But, if this is really a big dot deal, let's get some of the war on terrorism funding out to the police!

I just don't think it's a big dot deal, that's all.

Just a side comment, this woman sounds a little crazy. Some lawyer must be looking to make a big media splash, eh? The husband does look suspicious with all those fake IDs. Flim flam man or terrorist? This does need more investigation. Also, taking a picture of this ph34r.gif is really funny laugh.gif
Mike
QUOTE
Do you believe the State of Florida is infringing on this woman's religious rights by requiring her to unveil for a driver license?


Actually, according to several news stories from yesterday, Muslim women can only unveil in front of other women or their husband.

So, stick her in a room with a woman, and tell her she has 30 seconds to unveil or her license will be denied. Sounds like an easy solution to me.

Religion is not an excuse to violate the law. She is not forced to get a driver's license, and as a result, the government is not imposing a religion upon her.

The state of FL has not established a religion.

What's next? Satanic people want their license photos taken in devil masks? After all, it's their religious freedom.

I'd go a step farther and say that this woman should not be allowed to drive while covering her head.

It is a view obstructer. Have you ever put on a Halloween mask and tried to drive a car? They're like blinders!

Also, this makes it difficult for witnesses to identify her. If I saw someone hit a pedestrian and speed off, and they were wearing a veil, I could not pick them out of a lineup. They then could easily state it wasn't them. They could then take the fifth and, and refuse to give the "identity" of the actual driver.

Covering your face while driving is the equivalent of putting a veil on your license plate because it is religious freedom.


QUOTE
Do you believe this woman's religious beliefs could infringe on our nation's security?


Her beliefs? No. Her religion's protocol, yes.

If it is in fact the case that she cannot take off her veil, and we allow her to have a driver's license, she can then give that driver's license to anyone who wears a veil to use. That means that we could (potentially) give the wrong person top secret military clearance. We could (potentially) elect the wrong person to office. We could (potentially) put the wrong person in jail.

That's all too hypothetical, you say? OK, here is a case we'll have to deal with in the future (if she is truly a devout Muslim):

As a Muslim, she is required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in her life. That is a fact.

So, are we then going to allow her to get a passport while wearing a veil? That is certainly a threat to national security. How do we know it is actually her coming back?

On top of that, even strict Muslim countries force women to take their veils off for passport photos. Even Muslim countries recognize the need for women to show their faces!

QUOTE
Are there other methods that could be used to capture identification on driver licenses?


Yes, we could use fingerprints, hair samples, DNA, whatever. Just be sure that whatever means is chosen doesn't infringe upon my right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

If I go to get a pack of smokes, I'm not submitting anything but my cash and my photo ID. Any other search or seizure would be unreasonable.

EDIT: Oh yeah, The Smoking Gun has her picture...

user posted image

Mike
Cyan
Here are a couple of similar situations. They are not the most informative articles, but they do show that this issue has been looked at before in other countries:

No Hijab in Russian Passport Photos, Court

British Consulate rejects Passport Photo with Hijaab

The niqab, which is compulsory in Saudi Arabia, is the garment that Sultaana Freeman is wearing in the photos. Even Saudi Arabia makes women unveil their faces for their passport photographs. I don't think that is unreasonable.

Here are some other cases of interest regarding Christians and driver's license photos...from this link ACLU Florida:

QUOTE
The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit addressed the issue of religious freedom in the case of William P. Dennis v. Alan Charnes, arising in Colorado.  In this case, Mr. Dennis joined a religious group that prohibited its members from allowing photographs to be taken of them. According to members of that religious group, the Second Commandment mandated that "God had foreboded the making of, and has ordered the destruction of, graven images and likenesses." Mr. Dennis was denied his driver's license because he refused to be photographed. The court noted that the state must show a "compelling interest" in having photographs on drivers' licenses and that no less restrictive alternative is available.  Lawyers for Mr. Dennis were successful in arguing that the state was violating his religious freedom by implementing a policy that dictates how he must practice his religion. 

In the case of Frances J. Quaring v. Harry Peterson, the plaintiff also had religious objections to being photographed for a driver's license.  The court ruled in favor of Ms. Quaring and struck down a Nebraska policy mandating that  applicants submit a color photograph in order to obtain a driver's license. The court held that the policy "unconstitutionally burdened the applicant's free exercise of her sincerely held religious beliefs." She was therefore allowed to receive her license without the photograph as a vindication of her First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. Her belief was also grounded in a  reading of the Second Commandment.
Danya
QUOTE(cyan @ May 29 2003, 08:02 AM)
The niqab, which is compulsory in Saudi Arabia, is the garment that Sultaana Freeman is wearing in the photos. Even Saudi Arabia makes women unveil their faces for their passport photographs. I don't think that is unreasonable.


This is an excellent arguing point. Thanks for checking on that. Author Musician you're right taking a picture of ph34r.gif It is pretty funny. laugh.gif
Paladin Elspeth
I would hasten to add that in Saudi Arabia where wearing a niqab is mandatory for women in public, she wouldn't BE driving.

But Florida needs to get its act together. If they are going to allow the issuing of licenses without photos for other people, it will and does look like ethnic bigotry requiring this woman to have a photo.

Considering that this woman and her husband have had troubles with law enforcement before, they should let the issue go. It's not going to 'win friends' for the couple as much as it will 'influence people' (with apologies to Dale Carnegie) to criticize their contention and further trivialize religious differences. ph34r.gif
Beladonna
Well I guess you all have heard by now the judge ruled she had to unveil. ph34r.gif ohmy.gif
Momof3
I think if she wants a license then she better remove the veil.
I work in a Bank. When you open an account it is required that you have a primary ID. That would be a Driver's license, State ID, or a passport
Without that photo we are not allowed to open an account and for good reasons.
How the Hell do you know who you are dealing with without an Id? There is so much forgery out there as it is that we have to have an ID.
I agree. Driving is a privilage. So is having a Bank account or anyting else for that matter.
Being in the banking industry we have many muslims. Men and women. And the women I have dealt with do not cover their faces.
I think Ms Freeman sounds a little suspicious to me. ph34r.gif ph34r.gif ph34r.gif ph34r.gif
Jaime
Mom, welcome back from that rock you've been under tongue.gif

Did you miss Bela's last post? Or the news? She was told to remove it for her photo.
Greenring7
Do you believe the State of Florida is infringing on this woman's religious rights by requiring her to unveil for a driver license?
Nope. A Driver license is optional, not required. If, however, the government required her to posess a driver license, that would be different.

Do you believe this woman's religious beliefs could infringe on our nation's security?
Only if her religious beliefs endanger the security of the nation. Head buckets don't endanger security. The people under the head bucket with a bomb bo.

Are there other methods that could be used to capture identification on driver licenses?
Yes, but none that are workable, as of today.

And now that I think of it - consider this. A month and a half ago, I moved to Jacksonville to attend University. I wanted to open a bank account. Because my previous job was pulling carts into the grocery store, my sweat had blured my driver's liscence photo (not personal details) past obscurity. When I went to AmSouth, they refused to accept my driver's liscence or my (mint condition, used only once) passport. "We need your state ID, with a valid photograph." Compass accepted the passport cool.gif

-Robert
Amlord
Green,

I believe it is federal law that a passport be accepted as ID.
AJE
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/sultaana1.html

It seems that this isn't the first time she has been in a court of law?
Amlord
QUOTE(AJE @ Jun 26 2003, 12:07 PM)
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/sultaana1.html

It seems that this isn't the first time she has been in a court of law?

Wow, 18 months probation for aggravated felony battery of a child. Someone else referenced the fact that she used the burkha to cover the bruises caused by her abuse of those children.

A real winner...
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