Muslim-American Woman Sues Florida DMV

August 11, 2002

Source: The New York Times

On August 11, 2002 The New York Times reported that Sultaana Freeman, an American-born Muslim woman, "had no trouble getting a Florida driver's license last year even though she insisted on being photographed in a veil that reveals only her eyes...    After Sept. 11, however, state officials had a change of heart. In December, they said her license would be revoked if she refused to be re-photographed without the veil. Instead of complying, Ms. Freeman gave up her license - and then sued the state to get it back...     Florida officials contend, not surprisingly, that police officers need full-face photographs to identify a driver... Ms. Freeman argues that her faith requires her to shield her face in public and that a full-face photograph is not needed to verify her identity... In June, a Florida judge ruled that the case could go to trial...    Many legal scholars maintain that in an increasingly multicultural society, it is important to respect religious beliefs outside the mainstream...    But today, several legal scholars said, the question of what constitutes a compelling state interest is likely to be heavily influenced by Sept. 11."