The Bible on which governors swear to uphold the constitution forbids the moving of landmarks and the oppression of widows, orphans, the poor and strangers.
Yet the Republican government of Gov. Bill Haslam, like those of his Democratic predecessor Phil Bredesen, is involved in the routine oppression of these four categories of people through the use of police enforcement of the transportation law.
By David Tulis / NoogaRadio 92.7
The landmark that has been moved is the right to travel unimpeded and at liberty. It is a line separating people who travel for pleasure and for private purposes, and others who are involved in commerce pursuant to Title 55 of the Tennessee code annotated.
Gov. Haslam and his agents pretend that there is no right to travel, that all use of the public right of way in car, truck or motorbike is subject to regulation, permission, taxation, licensure and supervision by state and local government, with attendant duties to have insurance and to register one’s mode of travel as a motor vehicle with state and county.
God’s requirements for landmarks
The rule on landmarks comes in two books of the Old Testament. God’s law serves an evangelical and missionary purpose today as it did at the time of the children of Israel. God’s law declares His claims upon people and society, and is public notice from a sovereign creator God to mankind about standards of conduct. God’s law is the revealed basis upon which He metes out cursings or blessings upon a people for either their sin or their worshipful obedience.
Warnings against abusing the poor, the widow, the orphan and the alien are common in the Bible. They can be seen in the admonitions touching the surveyor’s trade:
- You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess (Deuteronomy 19:14)
- Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark, and all the people shall say, “Amen!” (Deuteronomy 19:17)
- Do not remove the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set. (Proverbs 22:28)
- Do not remove the ancient landmark, nor enter the fields of the fatherless. (Proverbs 23:10)
A landmarks is a physical delineations of a piece of land, a demarcation of the end of one’s right of property and the beginning of that of another. Landmarks are legal and moral, too. God’s people violated the covenant with God repeatedly (his landmarks for human action), and their sin is described in the basest terms. When they lusted after Chaldeans girded with belts and flowing turbans, God’s people “multiplied her harlotry in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, when she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt,” and lusted for paramours “whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys, and whose issue is like the issue of horses” (Ezekiel 23:19). God’s word is X-rated, shall we say.
God’s people sin repeatedly, ignore the prophets, reject the protection of God’s law summarized in the 10 commandments, and either refuse to do a positive duty required therein, or commit forbidden acts.
Landmarks in Tennessee
The two controlling political parties in Tennessee have brought the state and its peoples into a dark place on several fronts. Among the most recent is the 2015 moral mudslide of gay rights that Tennessee government accepted in the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion redefining marriage. The state and its officers accepted Obergefell as “law,” forcing the people to abandon a marriage regime in the law that was at least half biblical.
Tennessee, by acquiescing to homosexual relationships as suitable for recognition as marriage, pretends God has nothing to say about marriage, and that effectively God does not exist.
The state’s marriage statute was a usurpation against the rights of the individual citizen of Tennessee to marry at common law. State law and court cases hold that Tennessee is not a common law state in marriage, and that only unions created under the statute are recognized at law and legally enforceable. On top of that claim, state government says no one lacking a social security number can marry. By caving in to Obergefell, the state ceded its authority at Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 36-3-101 to -505 to regulate marriage.
Since it adopted the North Carolina Acts of 1778 at its founding, Tennessee government has abrogated the people’s right to common law marriage. In that act, it moved a boundary.
With the pro-gay opinion Obergefell, state government removed it.
Free travel, or only commerce?
A similar moving of boundaries has occurred against the right of travel by car, truck or motorcycle. State government pretends to have authority to forbid “common law” travel on the public right of way and to require all movement to be under license. State government, aided by agents in city and county, effectively says the 1939 driver license act forbids private travel and requires all users of the roads enter an administrative jurisdiction and be involved in commerce.
The state says all movement on roads, highways, boulevards and streets is subject to regulation as for-profit commerce. It obliterates the distinction between transportation and travel. The distinction between the two is clear in existing statute at many points. But by practice state government obliterates the distinction.
State government claims credit for the traveling by car or truck by a jury of the people against Arthur J. Hirsch, of Lawrence County, in Middle Tennessee.
The moving of the landmark is being appealed to the Tennessee supreme court after Mr. Hirsch was convicted in 2015 on four counts, three of them pertaining to the right of travel.
Mr. Hirsch is no scofflaw or careless citizen. He’s no rebel against the claims of lawful government pursuant to Romans 13, in which famous chapter the Apostle Paul outlines the claims of the civil magistrate upon the people — that civil authority is “not a terror to good works, but to evil” and is a “minister to you for good, *** an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (vv. 3, 4).
We don’t have lawful government pursuant to Romans 13, but that envisioned in Revelvation 13, is more like it.
The “Fiddle Man of Lawrenceburg” visits among the sick, plays old hymns to dying shut-ins, relates gospel truths to inmates at nursing homes and prisoners at Lawrence County jail. And he argues in court God has given him and everybody else in Tennessee the right to travel freely on the people’s roads apart from the state’s claims under transportation law. God-given, constitutionally guaranteed, unalienable and inherent legal rights of untrammeled and free movement belong to every person in the state, especially to every orphan, widow, poor person and stranger oppressed by the discriminatory practice of state-issued privileges.
Mr. Hirsch is not alone in his struggle. Public interest law groups in Virginia, Tennessee and other states have filed suits to end the practice of using driver license revocation to punish people too poor to pay court fines. Altogether 43 states and the District of Columbia use driver licenses to threaten and harass poor people who for the most part use cars simply or private travel and who are not common carriers for hire.
The National Center for Law and Economic Justice sued Gov. Haslam and others in January 2017 on behalf of two men, James Thomas and David Hixon. Thomas, who is homeless and disabled, is barred from getting a driver’s license because he has been unable to pay $290 in court fines, the lawsuit said. Davidson County court records show he owes about $470 more for a dismissed theft charge and second trespassing conviction.
“These are not people who are running out on their debts,” says attorney Claudia Wilner. “It’s people who can’t afford to pay, and it’s not their fault they can’t.”
The law came from a Republican senator from Franklin, Tenn., Jack Jackson, who sponsored it to help court clerks collect fines. Since the law went into effect in 2012, only 7 percent of people who lost licenses because of unpaid fines have been able to get them back, the filing says.
These lawsuits are at best a halfway measure because they do not acknowledge the travel-transportation distinction, and pretend that the poor people deprived of their licenses are involved in transportation as common carriers — when they’re not.
Mr. Hirsch says God condemns civil authorities who frame mischief in a law, citing Isaiah 5:20-23: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man!”
David Tulis oversees a news and analysis show weekdays at 9 a.m. on NoogaRadio 92.7 FM 95.3 FM HD4 in Chattanooga, covering local economy and free markets in Tennessee and beyond. He is editor of Nooganomics.com.
The lawsuit filed in January is here on ScribeD. https://www.scribd.com/document/335810607/Lawsuit-challenges-Tennessee-driver-s-license-revocation-law
Beth Schwartzapfel, “43 States Suspend Licenses for Unpaid Court Debt, But That Could Change,” TheMarshallProject.org, Nov. 21, 2017. https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/11/21/43-states-suspend-licenses-for-unpaid-court-debt-but-that-could-change