Constitutional Right to Veil Argued in Florida

Sultaana Freeman is a Muslim woman who refused to remove her veil for the photograph on her Florida driver’s license. The license was initially issued, but she later received a letter from the State, telling her that her license would be revoked if she failed to appear for a second, unveiled photo. A trial on her alleged Constitutional right to refuse to remove her veil begins today in Orlando. The American Civil Liberties Union is defending Ms. Freeman.
Shown below is a portion of Ms. Freeman’s current driver’s license.
Veil.jpg
A basic issue in the trial, of course, is the rationale for having pictures on driver’s licenses. Driver’s licenses are used for identification. If a highway patrolman stops a vehicle, he identifies the driver by the picture on the license. Ms. Freeman’s license, with the veiled photograph, is worthless for identification. It would be impossible to tell whether the driver of the vehicle were Ms. Freeman or virtually any other woman with brown eyes.
Both prosecution and defense intend to call witnesses who are experts in Muslim law. The state will contend that the Islamic religion does not, in fact, prohibit Freeman from being photographed. Freeman’s lawyer says this is irrelevant, since under Florida law it makes no difference whether his client’s objection is based on a tenet of an organized religion, or is unique to her.
This case appears to me to be of a piece with the hysteria over the Patriot Act that is now so prevalent on the left. (That the Act represents an outrageous infringement of civil liberties is an article of faith in some quarters, but it is hard to find anyone who will specify what provisions of the Act are objectionable, and why.) I think that the day will probably come when hard choices will need to be made to protect our security. Advocates of civil liberties–I count myself as one–do themselves no favors when they take extreme and frivolous positions.

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