Without traffic stop reform, human flourishing in Tennessee will suffer

A truck overturns and rumbles to the side of Interstate 75 in Chattanooga. Trucking is subject of police regulation because it affects the public interest and seeks a profit on the people’s roads. (Photo WTVC Newschannel9.com)

Until we have Title 55 reform in Tennessee, we will have damage in society by state actors against human flourishing.

By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio

The damage to human flourishing by the overbroad and illegal enforcement of the state transportation law is as subtle and unseen as the damage caused by monetary inflation that eats away at the buying power of the poor — and everyone else.

The overbroad enforcement of the Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55 operates virtually without notice until one day you find yourself providentially in front of the police cruiser, with its rack of blue lights — and they are flashing you into an arrest. (Under State v. Garcia and State v. Raspberry, blue lights = arrest.)

Policing per se reduces prosperity in Chattanooga and Hamilton County.

It secures poverty among the poor and the fearful, especially through the Title 55 “double nickel.”

The use of policing as an executive function in society suppresses the confident, risk-taking, optimistic, service-oriented, forward-thinking and othercentric perspective that flourishing capitalism and flourishing individual lives require.

Illegal policing vs. the people’s rights

Abusive use of Title 55 contradicts the strong human activity and the exercise of genius that takes place in the private sector, apart from and separate from the exercise of compulsion and force, which is what Title 55 does, especially when the people it agents target are private users. 

Human flourishing takes place in a voluntary context — in a grace-filled and other-centric environment. Everybody on the road is looking out for the interest of somebody else. Everybody you see on the road right now is they are fulfilling a personal or professional or civic duty of some kind of other. In addition to these people, other users of the road are commercial users, but they too are exercising the prerogative of the free market and the service economy to make a profit under state regulation in the public interest.

Transportation Administrative Notice creates new cause of action vs. cops who enforce Title 55 ‘outside the scope’

State violence against human flourishing occurs when those who are in the private sector are stopped, harassed, cited, arrested, beaten, shot, caged, attacked by police dogs, held up for DUI or drug investigation stops, and otherwise molested by agents an extortionate state executive power.

Private users are those who are on the road serving others, acting on personal necessity, involving themselves in the exercise of rights. That would include attending religious worship, attending political functions, such as speeches and voting, exercising other rights, such as the alleged right for abortion, and also exercising private duties that are covered under the doctrine of necessity.

Anyone who doubts that premise is welcome to attempt to run a day’s worth of errands in a rural Tennessee county with no car and very little money,” says U.S. district court judge Aleta Trauger in her recent ruling overturning an abuse of the people under Title 55. She highlights the necessity of private travel by auto.

“The centrality of motor vehicle travel is, moreover, not solely a rural problem. Even the relatively dense city of Nashville, where the court sits, is deeply reliant on motor vehicle transport. If any city in this jurisdiction could be expected to be reasonably navigable without driving, it would be Nashville—and the court takes judicial notice that, to the contrary, Nashville is a city where motor vehicle travel is an essential part of ordinary life, particularly for anyone seeking to maintain or build economic self-sufficiency. ***”

Here’s a little-known fact. The legal doctrine of necessity is a defense in a criminal matter, especially when the criminal matter is not alleging a real crime, but a mere violation of the commercial statute in equity (matters of contract covenant or agreement), a charge laid against a private individual citizen and human being.

People on the road flourish when they can act without fear or without intimidation.

Commercial flourishing

My arguments for a free market in the private sector should not imply that I am hostile to commercial regulation of commercial users of the people’s roads. I am, but am willing to overlook it for now for the sake of my main argument for reform under Title 55.

Human flourishing takes place also in commerce, under the police power, which I would say rightly is exercised against commercial interests because those interests have their principal place of business on the public freeway. Because these operators of semi-tractor trailers, wreckers, ambulances, Uber cars, haulers, dump trucks and other types of commercial vehicles are making a profit on the people’s property, it is understandable — perhaps right — that they are subject to state regulation.

They, too, are flourishing and simply bear the weight of police power regulations on their operators and drivers as a cost of doing business. They pass on the cost of regulation and other taxation to their customers, to the consumer.

We’ve seen state troopers having pulled over wobbly looking straight body trucks on the highway. We’ve seen cops standing alongside cabs of semi-tractor trailers that have a bit of rust on the cab or the trailer. We’ve seen logging trucks being waylaid by officers. We’ve seen dump trucks being harassed for not having canvas tarps over there bulging loads of gravel.

These people, despite their momentary troubles on the highway, are flourishing, too. Because they are in business, they are involved in regulable and taxable activity in our current system. They make their livings on the tarmac, and pay for pothole repairs and new highway lanes by paying fuel taxes and being subject to occasional interactions with safety-minded officers.

The human toll of abuse

The problem that we have in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, the anchor for long-term police reform in Tennessee, is the overenforcement of Title 55 against private users.

Keelah Jackson, right, is a poor person who is oppressed by a transportation enforcement system that denies she has any right to locomote. She is petitioning city court for relief, and has been twice rejected. (Photo David Tulis)

One such person among thousands abused by this ultra vires activity in the Chattanooga area is Keelah Jackson, a blogger and entertainer with varied interests who works part time at the Chambliss Center for Children. She is under an effective civil death sentence for having a revoked driver license and too little money to resolve a bureaucratic Catch-22 with fines totaling F$800.

“A drivers license supports my right to move freely without being confined to the restricted time frame, travel schedule, hours, and days of operation of public transportation,” she says, “or individuals who may offer transportation to me. Freedom of movement allows me to take greater advantage of my ability to fruitfully work within the multiple branches of my career “

Her life has been an agony for at least three years as she has been forced to abandon the use of private conveyances such as cars and trucks to seek work and live out her calling, all out of respect for the state’s purported claims that all travel (except change of one’s domicile from one state to another) is illegal apart from Tennessee’s system of privilege and state licensing of travelers as drivers and operators.

Support this blog and my 1 – 3 p.m. weekday show on 92.7 NoogaRadio by going to GoFundMe and making a free gift. I am grateful for your interest in my ministry and your support of my effort to encourage godly reform and constitution-fearing government in Chattanooga, Hamilton County and places beyond.

For other stories about traffic stop reform, click here.



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