Delegata potestas non potest delegari. A delegated authority cannot be again delegated. — Maxims in Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1856
City government, for 823 days under my Tennessee transportation administrative notice, is prowling for documents that show it has been granted authority to enforce the driver license law.
Its department of police routinely charges people regarding the driver license, which is permission to engage in commercial activity as a carrier. The city had seven days to come up with copies of the delegation order (if such exists), and the city attorney’s office is asking for more time.
The driver license regulation is in a body of law at Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55, motor and other vehicles, for use by carriers, whose authorization to operate is also at Title 65, chapter 15, motor carriers. This body of administrative law regulates the trucking-shipping-hauling-transportation industry under auspices of the U.S. government.
Whence racial oppression?
But the driver license statute has long been imposed on men and women on the roadways who are not subject to them. These victims of what we can genially call “overenforcement” are the poor, African-Americans, immigrants (aliens and strangers) and everybody else. Victims include people such as Diana Watt, Jimmy Lee Moore and Gregory Parker, with whose ordeals we are familiar.
Enforcing commercial laws on private nonbusiness travelers is the principal means by which old South racist Jim Crow practices persist across Tennessee and the other 49 states. This system of social engineering and human control is to be maintained by the bar and the courts, no matter the human toll. The courts of appeal uphold the practice and bar appeals against it, most recently in 2017.
My open records request asks for copies of “any and all agreements, covenants, contracts, delegation orders or other documents giving City of Chattanooga authority” to enforce chapter 50 of Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55, motor and other vehicles.
‘Administered by department’
Chapter 50 is the 84-page “uniform classified and commercial driver license act of 1988” that says, at 201, “This chapter shall be administered by the department of safety.” The very next provision establishes that driver licenses are under federal control and operate in terms of federal law.
The whole of Title 55 is law for the department of safety, which enforces the rules of the road and administration on commercial truckers, bus operators, haulers, carriers, shippers, rig operators, heavy rigs of all sorts (dump trucks, logging trucks, wrecker services, ambulances).
The law lets the commission write “rules and regulations concerning the licensing of persons to operate motor vehicles” [a motor vehicle is a trailer, car, truck or motorbike used commercially]. The law lets the state commissioner adopt rules “promulgated by the [U.S.] secretary of homeland security,” all in compliance with the state uniform administrative procedures act.
The question to city government is for evidence of agreements made with the state to enforce (for starters) the driver license act. I doubt any agreement exists by delegation from Nashville to Chattanooga. I doubt any freestanding authority exists for the city to enforce any part of Title 55 without an explicit grant.
The DOS is free to “execute or make agreements, arrangements, or declarations to carry out this chapter” with other states.
But it is a maxim of law that authority cannot be delegated. It can be granted and used. But it cannot be delegated to another.