Drivers Privacy Protection Act as a General Law of Applicability - Essay Example

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The focus of this paper is on personal privacy. Driver’s Privacy Protection Act enacted in 1994, restricts the United States in disclosing personal details about a driver without his knowledge. In 2000 Attorney General Condon went to court to block the act from being enforced under the Fourth Circuit…
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Drivers Privacy Protection Act as a General Law of Applicability
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According to Axelrod, Condon claimed that the act implicated states sovereignty which granted the state all the powers even those not specified in the constitution (211). Condon also claimed that enforcement of the act would be enjoying the nation and its administrators. He, therefore, concluded the act to be contrary to the federalism principles of power delegation, between states and federal government as stated in the constitution. Reno court, on the other hand, found Driver’s Privacy Protection Act to be a general law of applicability. Generally, applicable laws are laws that apply to both the state and private companies. Reno court concluded that it was constitutional for the congress to regulate the states’ activities where a generally applicable law was involved.
If initially, Condon had successfully won in Reno v. Condon, there would be both social and political repercussions. Socially, crime levels would increase in the society in case information such as home address or social security number falls in the wrong hands. For example, a woman whose data had been disclosed by the state to another state but ended in the hand of a stalker was murdered. Exposure of personal details would also result in segregation among the individuals on the bases of financial level, race or even education levels. Politically, the politicians may use the information for their own advantage by identifying the weakness of the states at an individual level eventually leading to manipulation. The other state may with time have enough data from the subject state to investigate the economic power of the state and end up taking advantage of the situation (Axelrod 245)
Likewise, the Supreme Court ruled that Driver’s Privacy Protection Act was constitutional and it did not violate federalism principles under the Tenth Amendment. This was because the act regulated ownership of motor vehicle databases by the state, used for interstate commercial purposes which were constitutional (Axelrod 112). Chief Justice Rehnquist based his ruling on the fact that if the state had to sell information, it would only sell to companies engaged in interstate commerce. Therefore, because the diver’s details were in this context subject of commerce, the regulation was required. Rehnquist also opposed that the Drivers Privacy Protection Act violated the tenth constitutional amendment.
Axelrod states that Constitution social impact is contributed by the numerous constitutional Acts that are implemented to enhance our social lives (200). For example, enforcement of the Gun-Free School Zone Act in the 1990s makes it a crime to own a gun in a school zone. Chief Justice Rehnquist bases his ruling on this act that a firearm had no economic importance; therefore it cannot fall under the commerce clause but a crime. The second evident of constitutional impact is United States v. Morrison in 2000, where the Supreme Court allowed enacting of the Violence Against Women Act. Women were allowed to forward gender-related suits in courts of law.
In conclusion, it is clear that personal privacy is vital not only to drivers but to everybody both socially and politically at the individual level and to the country at large. We should also acknowledge the efforts of the Supreme Court in improving our social lives by allowing the enactment of Acts. It is also important to regulate state power over citizen’s personal details. Read More
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