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Supreme Court to consider DPPA challenges

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  1. Freedom of Information
Supreme Court to consider DPPA challenges 05/31/99 WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument on the constitutionality of…

Supreme Court to consider DPPA challenges


WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument on the constitutionality of the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. Federal circuit courts have split on whether the act violates states’ rights, with the Fourth and Eleventh Circuits holding the act unconstitutional while the Seventh and Tenth Circuits have upheld it.

The Court granted certiorari in mid-May and is expected to hear argument on the matter sometime this winter, according to the Supreme Court clerk’s office.

The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act was passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Characterized as an anti-stalking measure, it aimed to combat the commercial practice of selling personal information “in connection with a motor vehicle record.” The DPPA prohibited the states from releasing certain information, including a person’s name, social security number and photograph, unless it allows individuals to opt-out of disclosure.

The appeal before the Court arose from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Condon v. Reno last September. In a 2-1 decision, the appellate panel in Richmond held that Congress lacked the constitutional authority to control the states’ dissemination of personal information in driver’s records and that Congress’ attempts to do so violated the states’ sovereignty guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment.

The court also stated that no right to privacy in driver’s information exists, noting that such information is routinely provided to others when one uses a driver’s license as identification.

Following the grant of certiorari, South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon said that the people of South Carolina, and not the federal government, have the right to determine how driver’s records are used.

“South Carolina should be run by South Carolinians,” Condon said. “If the federal government can tell us what to do with these records, it can tell us we can’t keep records at all.” (Reno v. Condon)