Identification in America,

as it stands in 2019

Under Construction



Table Of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Chapter 1
    1. Section 1
    2. Section 2
    3. Section 3
    4. Section 4
    5. Section 5
    6. Section 6
    7. Section 7
  3. Chapter 2
    1. Section 1
    2. Section 2
    3. Section 3
    4. Section 4
  4. Chapter 3
    1. Section 1
    2. Section 2
  5. Chapter 4
    1. Section 1
    2. Section 2
    3. Section 3
  6. Chapter 5


Something is off here. And I can't exactly put into words what it is yet, but it's there. Somewhere between being arrested for a failure to identify and the inability to make a few bucks at a crappy job without a government sponsored, high-security identification card. Here and there it's really not a big deal, right? It's certainly how I've been raised. My biggest problem is how it simply makes life complicated. Then there's the issue of a reliance on government that doesn't seem entirely healthy. And on top of all that, this is all a product of very recent developments. Our great4 grandparents knew nothing about this.

Mandatory passports at the border of our country were unheard of — during peacetime — until 1941. English Common Law still governed nearly all of the subjects related to identification. Those who didn't own much property would've had very few legal papers to safeguard. It's hard to get a strong feeling of how this reality would have been to live through, but on its face it sounds vastly superior to the reality we currently live.

A goal of this paper is to reach a deep understanding of identification. Both in a philosophical sense, and a legal one. As the title suggests the focus is America. I'm interested in learning how other cultures handle these problems, but they likely have limits in their application. The most serious conflicts are between Common Law and modern statutes/policies. With state Constitutions that were first authored with an eye to preserving those traditions it ought to be possible to use that knowledge in court. But with people that have been conditioned to act in very specific ways it is difficult to make a dramatic shift in interactions with them.

By creating a situation where lawful activities are inaccessible to those without ID, North Carolina has unreasonably restricted the activities of its citizenry. This makes N.C. vulnerable to liability created by injuries to the people. A situation that is easily corrected by the issuance of photographic identification from an office of the executive branch, provided at cost. An identification that requires nothing but the word of the people and their photo.

Historical Identification

Chapter 1

Sec. 1, In A State Of Nature

The memory of a person. Despite it often being clear who did an action, the ability to hold that person accountable is entirely dependant on one's memory. And/or their ability to describe someone's face to others.

Sec. 2, Native Americans

Clothing choices. Bands on arrows.

Sec. 3, Ancient Rome

Census Records, wooden diptych, tribal records, public records for Cursus honorem.

Sec. 4, Medieval Europe

Letters patent. Family trees & crests. Special designations.

Sec. 5, Colonial England, circa 1750

Traveling among colonies as a American subject? Did an American need ID to buy goods from the homeland?

Sec. 6, Early America, circa '77-'27

Sec. 7, Twentieth Century

The most distinguished aspect of this century is the steady encroachment of new divisions, departments, and agencies upon our private lives. It does appear that early on in this process many of these agencies offered their services voluntarily, and over the years these "suggested" services have become enforced by statutes. I don't believe that wild speculation is all that useful, however this clearly raises a question of original intent.

Driver's Licenses and Social Security Numbers are the most extreme examples. In a span of 50 years (about 2 generations) they went from non-existent, to cutting edge, to widely used, to lawfully enforced. But are they lawful?

Dissecting N.C. Identification

Chapter 2

Sec. 1, Definitions

Resident (Black's, 9th)
n. (15c) 1. A person who lives in a particular place. 2. A person who has a home in a particular place. • In sense 2, a resident is not necessarily either a citizen or a domiciliary.
n. (l4c) 1. A person who, by either birth or naturalization, is a member of a political community, owing allegiance to the community and being entitled to enjoy all its civil rights and protections; a member ofthe civil state, entitled to all its privileges.
n. (1845) A person who resides in a particular place with the intention of making it a principal place of abode; one who is domiciled in a particular jurisdiction.
State (NCGS Chap. 20)
A state, territory, or possession of the United States, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a province of Canada, or the Sovereign Nation of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians with tribal lands, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1151, located within the boundaries of the State of North Carolina. For provisions in this Chapter that apply to commercial drivers licenses, "state" means a state of the United States and the District of Columbia.

Sec. 2, Eligibility

A person who is a resident of this State is eligible for a special identification card.

To me that is very simple and plain language. However...

State I.D.

When applying for an ID card for the first time, an individual must visit an NCDMV driver license office with the following documents:
  1. One document proving age and identity
  2. A Social Security card
  3. U.S. citizens, a document proving residency
  4. Non-U.S. citizens, a document indicating legal presence

Technically the state can lawfully get away with this, but it's certainly pushing the limits. However going up to a higher level, the statute is designed to control the behaviour of NC's DMV. And, as we've seen, 'resident' is a purposefully generic term. They could have used the terms domiciliary (one who is domiciled) or citizen. The question of whether or not these statutes exist as constitutional state law or as an extension of the corporate "State of North Carolina" is very much at the top of my mind. However the fact remains that this entity (along with its siblings) have created, instituted, and maintained the system which is currently limiting my activity in the world. So if there is a way to 'play nice' I ought to take it.

Black's definition of eligible is Fit and proper to be selected or to receive a benefit. So how can the state legally deny anyone who has proof of residence? Because according to their own language the only requirement is to be one who resides in this state. Even foreigners can and have gotten an ID, which means this interpretation is certainly used. So why is it so hard to simply opt out of providing the number? Yes that is a rhetorical question.

Sec. 4, 21ST-Century, North Carolina Statue Law

N.C.G.S. Chap. 20, Article 2B.

Sec. 7, Uses For I.D

Buying alcohol/opium/firearms/houses/mail-order, traveling, doing an activity for hire (freelance), common labour, banking, rent home/equipment, adoption, hotel, to hunt, communicate.

Cases For Identification

Chapter 3

Sec. 1, Precedents

Registration with government has always been voluntary. My assertion is that that has never changed. Simply people's perception of what is and isn't voluntary, and a few well placed lies from individuals of authority.

Identification Is Hearsay.

Sec. 2, Passport As A Right

It is the duty of a government to protect its people. And in a time of peace people have every right to peacefully travel without a passport. Unfortunately our national government has been in an extended state of national emergency since the second world war.

National Emergency. It's really a clever thing. And so far has worked beautifully on our mostly ignorant population. Luckily for us context is significant. A case can certainly be made that this application of the "National Emergency" has been inconsistent and is often unfounded. After all, what is a National Emergency when thousands of the Nation's middle class are off taking vacations?

Practical Remedy

Chapter 4

Sec. 1, Enumeration Of Conflicts

Buying age restricted items. Confrontation with police while traveling in public. Buying firearms. Staying at hotel. Renting a car. Banking. Getting a typical job. Pickup at post office. Dealing with notary. Travel Abroad.

Sec. 2, Applying For Help From State Gov't

There are two issues at play here. 1. Obtaining a widely recognized I.D. that acts as both Common Law and Statute-based proof of Identification. 2. Getting the Gov't to protect me abroad. I don't know to what extent a passport is a right or not. In a casual sense, it is most certainly the duty of our Gov't to protect us both within and without its borders. In a technical sense...not so sure.

A preliminary plan. First build as strong a base as I can. Judicial opinions, historical precedents (both old and recent), logical proofs,

Sec. 3, The Test

N.C.G.S. 18B-302

Buy alcohol at a store/restaurant that requires an I.D. using a form of I.D. that didn't require a birth certificate or Social Security number to obtain. N.C. allows the use of a Driver's License, Special Identification Card, Passport, Military Identification Card. and some places may accept a foreign identification card. A court ordered ID Card or Passport would be my silver bullet.

Digging Through Sources

Plain Notes

Twain, Mark. The Innocents Abroad. Hartford, American Publishing Company, 1869.

"They keep up the passport system here, but so they do in Turkey. This shows that the Papal States are as far advanced as Turkey."

It's an interesting comment here. Whether or not this is fiction there is bound to be a story behind this clear prejudice of the times.

Every body in Constantinople warned us to be very careful about our passports, see that they were strictly ‘en regle’, and never to mislay them for a moment: and they told us of numerous instances of Englishmen and others who were delayed days, weeks, and even months, in Sebastopol, on account of trifling informalities in their passports, and for which they were not to blame.

Koffler, Joseph H. Common Law Pleading, Handbook Of. 1969.

Names and how they're used seems to be very ingraned into the law of the many states. The plaintiff and defendant must be named in the most proper way. The names that they use and were given at birth. Whereas the various witnesses and other persons mentioned in the case may be described using nicknames or the most specific description available.

Harris, George E. Law of Identification, A Treatise. Albany, H.B. Parsons, 1892. § 2.

The agreement of a person's name, residence, and occupation isn't absolute proof that he is the person described, however it is enough evidence to put the burden of proof on himself rather than the plaintiff.

Garner. Black's Law Dictionary. Tenth Edition. 2009.

identity: "Sameness in essential attributes; the condition of being the very same thing as has been described or asserted.

hotchpot: 1. The blending of items of property to secure equality of division, esp. as practiced either in cases of divorce or in cases in which advancements of an intestate's property must be made up to the estate by a contribution or by an accounting. 2. In a community-property state, the property that falls within the community estate.