Friday, September 23, 2011

Suit Seeks Religious Exemption From Drivers License Biometric Photo

In Cleveland County, Oklahoma, a woman has filed suit is state court seeking a religious accommodation that would allow her to obtain a driver's license with a low resolution photograph instead of the state-required high-resolution photo that captures biometric data.  The complaint (full text) in Beach v. Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, (OK Dist. Ct., Sept. 21, 2011), says that plaintiff has learned that the required photographs are in a format required by the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization, and will be placed in a database shared by various jurisdictions.  Plaintiff alleges that she has a sincerely held religious belief that the Bible, in Revelation 13:16-18 and 14:9-11 (passages dealing with the mark of the beast): "explicitly commands believers to not participate  in a global numbering identification system using the number of man, and eternally condemns participation in that system."

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the refusal to provide an accommodation violates the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act and an injunction requiring granting of an exemption.  The suit also claims that the photo requirement infringes plaintiff's reasonable expectation of privacy in her biometric data. A press release from the Rutherford Institute announced filing of the lawsuit.