By David Tulis
The battle of local economy is one in which the promises of the credit economy salesman at the front door so preoccupy us that we scarce pay any attention to the looting of our kitchen cabinets by his sneaker-clad cohort with the bag slung over his shoulder.
A local man recently appeared in a Chattanooga courtroom vainly objecting to an important loss of liberty. To whet your appetite for details, his case is written up in Chattanoogan.com under the headline, “‘Sovereign Citizen’ Questions City Court’s Authority, But Judge Rules Him Guilty On All Counts.” But before we meet him another day I want to tell you about the legal wall he faces.
Government control of the roadways began in the 1910s when New York created a licensing regime that eventually snagged every user of the roads and every motorized conveyance under a regime of permissions and licensure. If we believe the free market actors in this dispute, the state converted cars and trucks into vehicles and the people behind their steering wheels into drivers.
We get into this controversy not hoping vainly to change anything about the status quo. We have lately become aware of free-range chickens being healthier in their egg-laying, and free-range cattle producing better quality meat, such as that sold by the Brady family at St. Alban’s farmer’s market on Saturdays in Hixson. Consider how the free-range motorist may be insisting on health of a different sort, if only to point out what we have lost by way of liberty.
The case of Robert K. Booher suggests how this is done by what seems a sleight of hand. The Tennessee court that ruled in his 1997 case wants to recognize your rights with one hand (the sales pitch), while with the other it takes the canned chowder and bags of pasta out of the cupboard that might otherwise nourish your family.
A valuable right has been destroyed by Tennessee courts in compliance with the “public policy” of requiring every car owner to be a driver. What is that right? The right to travel.
I have not done a comprehensive review of the cases that imposed this regime of permissions upon the free people of our state. So I will take the story of Mr. Booher as suggestive of the rulemaking from the bench that is part of the narrative of revolution by government and within government.
Before we meet Mr. Booher up close, let me make your head spin by the trick given in the ruling. “We agree with the appellant that he enjoys a fundamental right to freedom of travel.” Fine thus far. We can agree with judge. But hold on. “Travel, in the constitutional sense, however, means more than locomotion; it means migration with the intent to settle and abide. Thus any American is free to travel from state to state, and to change his state of residence or employment whenever he desires, unrestricted by unreasonable government interference or regulation. Whether a specific type of travel is protected by one’s constitutional right to travel depends upon the intent which motivates the movement.”
Do you see what is happening here? Travel, they say, means something MORE THAN LOCOMOTION, but the judges define is as entirely something less.
What is travel?
The judges say travel is moving your household to another address with the intent to reside. Residency is a legal concept that is filled with your intention to move your physical address to another location. This liberty, the judges say, is yours. You are free to move wherever you like, with your wife and children in the car and you in the cab with the movers.
But travel is defined much more broadly in common usage. Black’s law dictionary defines traveler simply as “a person who passes from place to place, for any reason.” The word “travel” appears in Bouvier’s law dictionary, which defines original constitutional usages, as part of a definition of turnpike: “A turnpike is a public highway, and a building erected before the turnpike was made, though upon a part out of the travelled path, if continued there is a nuisance.” The movement discerned here is that of traffic, not strictly relocation. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary place travel very simply in physical movement from Point A to Point B.
To walk; to go or march on foot; as, to travel from London to Dover, or from New York to Philadelphia. So we say, a man ordinarily travels three miles an hour. *** To journey; to ride to a distant place in the same country; as, a man travels for his health; he is traveling in Virginia. *** To go to a distant country , or to visit foreign states or kingdoms, either by sea or land.
Wikipedia, the all-knowing source of knowledge for college students writing papers, says travel is “the movement of people or objects (such as airplanes, boats, trains and other conveyances) between relatively distant geographical locations.”
The case of Mr. Booher
Now, hold on. Before we meet our defendant from Hixson who made spectacle of himself in Judge Sherry Paty’s court, I’d like to tell you of his predecessor in patriotism, Mr. Booher, whose story is recounted in an official record by the Tennessee court of criminal appeals in Nashville.
Mr. Booher of Waverly, Tenn., in his 1997 case says he is free to use the roads so long he is acting privately and is not involved in commerce. Mr. Booher was convicted in the circuit court of Humphreys County for driving without a license and driving without vehicle registration. He was convicted after he sent by registered mail all registration papers, certificates of title and licenses plates for three autos and two pickup trucks. After that, “the appellant asserts that he traveled as a ‘free man’ for about three and a half weeks.”
As the appeals court frames the case, Mr. Booher is arguing that it is unconstitutional for state government “to require him to procure a driver’s license and vehicle registration before operating a motor vehicle on the public highways of this state.” I don’t have the record before me, but this statement frames the defendant’s case in terms of the established paradigm. That paradigm is that there is no distinction between directing a car and driving a motor vehicle. The first activity — using a car on the road — according to the patriotic argument of Mr. Booher and others, is free. The second activity, driving a motor vehicle, is part of commerce and subject to regulation and licensure. Mr. Booher made no such argument about motor vehicles, and that he was insisting his cars and pickups were being used privately.
“Moreover, the appellant argued that a vehicle only becomes a ‘motor vehicle’ when it is registered and, because his 1985 Dodge was not registered, he could not be guilty of either misdemeanor offense.”
Presumption of total state control of car use
The courts turn a deaf ear to the argument that says use of a car or private use is not subject to regulation. Remember, traveling is something more than going from A to B on the map; meaning, it is something definitely less.
Mr. Booher’s arguments are simply rejected, and the judges piously insist the right to travel remains unaffected.
“His right to travel within this state or to points beyond its boundaries remains unimpeded. Thus, not only has the appellant’s right to freedom of travel not been infringed, but also, we cannot conclude that this right is even implicated in this case. Rather, based upon the context of his argument, the appellant asserts an infringement upon his right to operate a motor vehicle on the public highways of this state. This notion is wholly separate from the right to travel.”
So a private use is a public use. The court bars private use of cars on the roads entrusted to the care of state government, and insists the right to travel and the right to travel by car are “wholly separate” concepts.
In a text in the near future we will meet a man who cockily uses the concept of “individual sovereignty” to insist he has a right to use the roads privately, and is not required to obtain a license to drive a motor vehicle, because he is not driving a motor vehicle — he is operating a car for private purposes.
Am I wasting my time talking about the Boohers and “sovereign citizens” of Tennessee — letting legal cranks get me agitated about lost liberties? Maybe.
But maybe these oddballs and seeming troublemakers are on to something valuable, if only so we might understand our predicament better. As we work toward increasing our liberties and asserting our rights as the yeomanry, the commonfolk and members of the commonwealth in the Volunteer State, we might do well with a little legal context.
Please read Part 2 of this essay here.
Sources: State of Tennessee vs. Robert K. Booher, 978 S.W.2d 953; 1997 tenn. Crim. App. Lexis 799.
Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the American Language (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1828, 1995). Facsimile edition.
You may also enjoy these essays by David Tulis
The next time you get ticket, ask questions a la Scarlet Pimpernel
Preserving your rights in city court; judge fields my odd liberty queries
Roadway gnome insists on right to travel at liberty, apart from licensing demands
1997 Tenn. case says you have right to travel, but not by car
Have you done any research on these folks, David? Seriously?
Mark Kimsey, when you say “these folks,” are you referring to “sovereigns”? If so, ALL of We the People are sovereign, what makes you not a sovereign is your consent to contract it away. Unalienable (Black’s law dictionary): nonchangeable, nontransferable, can ONLY be given up by individual consent.
I ask you, why do you ask permission to exercise a right (by asking a permit or license)? Oh, because they require you to.
Or else what? Fines, court, jail, bodily harm, … That means they are forcing you to contract with a cooperation against your will. Which brings me to my next point.
The 13th Amendment says “there shall be NO slavery or INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE.” The state of Tennessee is a cooperation, the “drivers license” is a corporation. When a corporation forces a private individual to contract with another corporation, against his free will, it IS involuntary servitude, strictly prohibited by our 13th Amendment. OK. Let’s say a peace officer (policeman) has you detained.
He requests your driver’s license. At this point he is compelling you to be a witness against yourself in a criminal case. That action violates the officers oath of office, and it violates your 5th amendment right, that “NO person shall be compelled to be a witness against themselves in ANY criminal case.” I have the Black’s law dictionary that defines”driver” as commercial, NOT private. There are several Supreme Court citations that support our right to travel. All Supreme Court citations are binding in ALL appellate courts in the U.S. until overturned. Our city court of fraud is out of control. They are violating their OATH to the Constitution.
U.S. Constitution Article VI, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be BOUND thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary NOTWITHSTANDING.”
The ONLY thing different between you and a “sovereign” is he knows his rights and he demands they be respected; he holds our elected officials accountable, you consent. We are normal people like you.
GREAT piece, David. Thank you. Come by the shop sometime.
— Michael Scallia.
“I ask you, why do you ask permission to exercise a right (by asking a permit or license)? Oh, because they require you to.”
Permission? Exercise all the rights you wish to exercise, within necessary limits. There are limits to those “rights” such as the “shouting fire in a crowded theater” exception? Now, Mr. Tulis is all in an uproar about porn on the Internet [from EPB, a government entity, ed.] …. Are “you folks” demanding another limiting “exception” to our First Amendment “right?” Citizens that post child pornography on the Internet are cool with you?
How about the right to bear arms? Do you feel there are no limits to that “right?” Mental health consumers should be allowed to carry firearms? How about duly convicted criminals? How about the ‘pursuit of happiness’ being used to defend abortion?
“Mark Kimsey, when you say “these folks,” are you referring to ‘sovereigns’?”
Indeed, I am referring to members, affiliates, mouthpieces and sympathizers of the extremist/domestic terror group, “sovereign citizens” or those that identify with their stated beliefs. For a cursory examination of ‘these folks’ read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_citizen_movement
Since Eric Kiesche parroted, almost verbatim, the stated world view of the official “sovereign citizens” platform on the aforementioned radio show, I rate him right up there with Terry Nichols, Jerry R. Kane Jr. and his son, Joseph T. Kane. I further rate the “sovereign citizen” sycophants at the very same level.
“…. He requests your driver’s license. At this point he is compelling you to be a witness against yourself in a criminal case.”
I thought the sovereigns are basing their protests on the ethereal and unsupportable idea that all actions/demands/requirements regarding a state mandated driver’s license/car tag were civil cases. Which way do you want it?
“That action violates the officers oath of office, and it violates your 5th amendment right, that “NO person shall be compelled to be a witness against themselves in ANY criminal case.”
Please outline how enforcing a so-called “civil” law, as claimed, violates a law enforcement officer’s oath of office?
Since this is a non-custodial conversation, and there is no interrogation being performed by an agent of the state, I can only presume the silence exercised by Mr. Scallia is due solely to his inability to cogently argue the point at hand rather than anything relating to Mr. Miranda.
Mr. Scallia states, “We are normal people like you.”
On that, I beg to differ. If one buys into the BS that is “sovereign citizen” movement, one is not normal, in my humble opinion.
From what I have read, “these folks” were fine with their long-form birth certificates, they were fine with the U.S. banking system, the Fed, the mortgage system and they were fine with their Social Security Number (when used to claim benefits they believed they were entitled to at the time they applied)/
It seems that when these “sovereign citizens” got all swolt up and red around the bottom was when they were being forced to abide by the government-supported mortgage contracts they willingly signed, when they applied for their SSN (and those of their children) and when the bill came due……… “I got rights!”
Good for the goose, should be good for the gander.
I am clear on the silence, Mr. Scallia (Whatever its genesis.)
I think the gentleman saw that it was pointless to have a reasonable discussion with you.
First of all Let’s get something straight. “Sovereign citizens” there is no such animal. If your going to make an intelligent remark, then let’s start out with the type of people we are talking about, “Sovereign” putting the word citizen in with sovereign is a oxymoron. Read the United States Constitution, it says the “people” are sovereign.
We the people made the Constitution, we have the sovereign power to make contracts and Law. When we made the government, it was a fictitious entity, a corporation.
We are masters over it and it does our bidding, not the other way around.
Get informed and read some quotes some of our early presidents made about our government getting out of control or getting too big for it self.
A man or a woman are sovereign and do not follow statues or codes made by corporations which we have not invested in. They do not control the sovereign man or woman. It is like saying when you enter a McDonald’s you must follow their rules while you are there and when you leave there McDonald’s says you can’t do that, it’s not part of the rules.
However, your outside of their place of business and have no authority to tell you what to do in any sense. That is what statues and codes are. They are meant for corporate employees and those that contract with them. If you did not contract with them, then why would they have any control over you. Everything in this world is about contracts. The constitution is a contract with the People and the Government on what powers they have which we grant them.
So if your one of those so called “One World Order” freaks then you can go and f–k yourself. You’re the terrorist. Not the sovereign. Get a clue to what you are saying from all the brain washing our government has been doing to you all your life. A contract has two parts, One made up by the person offering the contract and the one receiving the contract.
The offer-er pre-pairs the contract in favor of the receiver, after full enclosure the receiver has an opportunity to review the contract and put in anything or stake out anything not with standing in his favor.
Then submits it back to the pro-parer, if the pro-parer excepts the contract then all parties sign the documents and it’s a done deal. What happens most of the time our government tries to give us quasi contracts without full disclosure. These type of contracts are null and void for they don’t meet the true requirements of contractual law. This is what most sovereign men and Women are talking about. We control our own lives and the state or government has no control over us.
A servant does not control the King or Queen, it’s just that simple. If you don’t understand it this simple way then you just go on being the citizen “slave” you were meant to be.