An impoverished independent businessman vows to appeal to the Tennessee supreme court a mid-level appellate opinion in a criminal case hostile to liberties Tennesseans enjoyed prior to World War II that he is trying to have restored.
The eight-page opinion against Arthur J. Hirsch, 65, says that Tennessee’s anti-Negro-based gun law is clear, capable of “ready understanding by a person of ordinary intelligence” despite claims that key terms are undefined and unconstitutionally vague.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 92.7
On a second liberty-related issue, the court rejects out of hand Mr. Hirsch’s defense of God-given, unalienable, inherent rights guaranteed in the Tennessee constitution to a type of personal property.
Namely, the right of free personal movement on the public right-of-way.
Defending existing police practice against undocumented Hispanics, the poor and constitution-minded Anglos, the court says the circuit court in Lawrence County in middle Tennessee had jurisdiction to hear the case on allegations that Mr. Hirsch violated the state’s three-tiered transportation statute that apparently deleted the right to travel in 1937 when the general assembly passed the driver license act.
Appellate court judge James Curwood Witt Jr. accurately and favorably describes Mr. Hirsch’s arguments about the right to travel privately. But he dismisses Mr. Hirsch’s claim of having been lawlessly aggrieved by his chief accuser, state trooper Jeff Reed, and the circuit court’s jurist, Stella Hargrove.
Judge Witt suggests that Mr. Hirsch argued that somehow the controversy didn’t occur in Lawrence County. But the dispute over jurisdiction is not about geography and the line on a map making one county separate from another.
Mr. Hirsch’s argument over jurisdiction consistently has been upon the transportation statute and the limits of its applicability. Mr. Hirsch argues that the TCA title 55, “motor and other vehicles,” applies only to those car and truck users involved in commerce, being carriers of people or goods for hire in transportation and for-profit.
The court rejects this analysis and skirts the main point Mr. Hirsch is bringing into view. And that is whether the 1937 uniform motor vehicle operators and chauffeurs’ license act, part of title 55, voids and crushes constitutionally guaranteed rights. The licensing act, under a rewrite, today is called the “uniform classified and commercial driver license act of 1988.” Mr. Hirsch argues in favor of the constitutionality of the law by saying it creates a body of users of the public right of way that didn’t exist previously. That is to say, a body of commercial, for-profit users. All others — those not in commerce — are outside this jurisdiction, acting privately and for their own pleasure; these may freely use the highways, untaxed, unlicensed, unmolested, he says.
The court upholds the state’s technically oriented and wooden argument by M. Todd Ridley, an assistant attorney general, which is effectively that the general assembly, with its sequence of transportation laws, obliterated and nullified constitutional rights exercised freely by the traveling public prior to the statutes having been passed.
Law valid, Hirsch argues
Mr. Hirsch says no. The statute on licenses does not destroy any constitutional right and therefore is valid. The statute he says, regulates commerce and the for-profit use of the people’s roads furthering public health, safety and welfare and allowing the steward of the people’s assets, the state, to recoup costs of repair and policing against those who use the roads for profit
Mr. Hirsch insists that he is a private user of the people’s roads, and does not make his business profiting on transportation, though he uses the roads as part of his business and for his own pleasure and personal purposes, including works of charity that give him the local honorific as the “Fiddle Man of Lawrenceburg.”
The court refuses to hear many of his key claims on the right to travel because he appealed his case rather than having filed a motion for a new trial. Numerous claims of plain error by Judge Hargrove are dismissed out of hand, even though the errors Mr. Hirsch cites “breached a clear and unequivocal rule of law, *** adversely affected a substantial right” and precluded the defendant from obtaining “substantial justice.”
The court densely discusses the question of jurisdiction. Whereas Mr. Hirsch says the court lost jurisdiction over the subject matter of the traffic stop, the judges give detailed discussion about personal jurisdiction and the location of the alleged offense.
Biggest liberty case in 80 years
The case State of Tennessee v. Hirsch is the most important liberty case in Tennessee in the past 80 years, threatening to overturn the most significant part of commercial government in which the state, as merchant corporate, enforces its jurisdiction against private rights in the name of profit and the regulation of commerce.
Most Tennesseans have little to do with law enforcement. However, when they do have an encounter with a police officer or sheriff deputy, it most often is on the highway, under the rubric of transportation and traffic.
Through the licensing system, the state imposes ad ownership claim upon the property of free movement, requiring the registration cars and trucks as motor vehicles, compelling insurance contracts for resolving accidents, and requiring men, women and teenagers to enter into commercial arrangements with the executive branch’s department of safety and homeland security for the purposes of becoming licensees and operators of motor vehicles.
Mr. Hirsch has been scrupulous in excluding himself from these commercial arrangements, even having a private tag on the back of his red pickup truck that first caught Trooper Reed’s attention Dec. 10, 2013.
The court misrepresents Mr. Hirsch’s argument on several points, leaving for the supreme court to clarify whether or not the 1939 statute is constitutional, its use against Mr. Hirsch constitutional, or whether the entire statute is unconstitutional because it reduces or eliminates a constitutional right practiced by every Tennessee in years prior to the passage of the law.
John Harris at the Tennessee Firearms Association is dismissive of Mr. Hirsch’s claims over the gun statute, saying in an email, “Bad facts make bad law.”
According to the Gnome of Strawberry Plains, John Ballinger, whose name is also connected with “bad law” out of the judiciary, Mr. Hirsch might point out that no administrative agency has authority over a person exercising a constitutionally guaranteed right.
“Administrative law can’t be used to deny anyone a constitutional right,” says the retired carpenter. “They use administrative law to run roughshod over the people thousands of times a day. And they can’t run the system that they have right now without doing that.”
Mr. Ballinger says the system cannot function if the state were forced to recognize constitutional rights to travel by car or truck. The state system could not function if everyone on the road were exercising constitutional rights, acting, as it were, above the administrative law realm. The state’s system works only if everyone is shorn of their constitutional rights and duped into entering the administrative law jurisdiction in which Trooper Reed and police departments such as that in Chattanooga operate, he says.
Unusual claim against standing in criminal cases
Also raised a startling challenge to the modern corporate state that is visible only to someone with a biblical and common-law perspective.
And that is that the state has no standing with which to prosecute him in any manner for the exercise of his constitutional rights. The issue of standing is fundamental to law, and Mr. Hirsch in his appeal brief and an oral arguments says that the state has not met the three basic requirements for standing. Chief among these is that it has not shown itself to have been injured by his freewheeling and private use of the roads.