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Lampooned Palm Beach Worker Identification Law Ruled Unconstitutional

December 18, 1985

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Posh Palm Beach’s controversial worker indentification law, lampooned earlier this year by cartoonist Garry Trudeau, is unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled.

The law required blue-collar workers to get fingerprinted and photographed and to carry identification cards while on the island town.

Palm Beach’s ID card law received national attention this summer when it was compared to South Africa’s ″pass″ law in the comic strip ″Doonesbury.″

More than 21/2 years after Ignatius Wallace and Rochelle Vana, both of West Palm Beach, challenged the law, U.S. District Judge Norman Roettger this week ruled that the 45-year-old law imposed a burden on interstate commerce that outweighed local security interests.

″I’m quite sure that many of our residents will be disappointed,″ said Palm Beach Town Council President Paul Ilyinsky. ″It represented a certain protective screen, a barrier.

″In this outrageous age we live in, that meant a lot to our people.″

But Roettger ruled Monday that the law ″created impediments to the free flow of commerce″ and was ″intimidating to those who do not want to reveal former incarceration, residence in a mental institution, covert cohabitation, illegitimacy or race.″

When informed Tuesday of the ruling, Palm Beach stopped photographing workers, said Town Manager Douglas Delano. He said he was unsure if the city would appeal the ruling.

Roettger said interstate commerce was affected because Ms. Vana had moved from Indiana to find work in Palm Beach, and she said in her suit that she quit her waitressing job for fear of being prosecuted for not having an ID card.

Wallace said he didn’t have the $4 fee needed to obtain the card.

Roettger suggested that Palm Beach employers might do their own background checks on prospective employees.

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