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From the Editor

Is Driving a car a “Right” or a “Privilege?”


By:  David Deschesne

Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal


I was speaking to a reader the other day whose driver's license was suspended. He said the Secretary of State says he has a right to operate a motor vehicle which they have suspended via due process.

“My rights may be diminished by due process to the point of execution but if I have a 'right' it can not be converted into a privilege, require a license and have a fee attached to it,” this person told me. “I have a blue seal copy which states my right to operate was suspended.”

He went on to pontificate; “If my right to do anything is converted to a privilege and a fee charged, as with a driver's license, could it lead to the right of 'free' speech to requiring a license and a fee accessed? How about life, could my right to life be converted to a privilege and require a license? That essentially took place in NAZI Germany when Hitler forced the Jews to wear yellow stars so they could be identified as being licensed to be in public.”

He then asked if I thought he could get a dismissal on the driver’s license suspension from a judge citing cases on conversion of rights to privilege.

That’s a good question. Let’s examine some facts before we figure out if judges are going to rule we are a free people or that we’re hopelessly enslaved to our government slave masters. First, do we have a right to travel? Interestingly, it appears that we do according to these court decisions:

“The constitutional right to travel from one State to another, and necessarily to use the highways and other instrumentalities of interstate commerce in doing so, occupies a position fundamental to the concept of our Federal Union.” - United States vs. Guest, 383 US 745, 757; 86 S. Ct 1170, 1178.

“The right to travel is a part of the right to liberty.” Worthy vs. Herter, 270 F 2d 905, 908

“The right to travel is a well-established common right that does not owe its existence to the federal government. It is recognized by the courts as a natural right.” Schactman vs. Dulles, 96 App D.C. 287; 225 F 2d 938 at 941.

So it appears the courts have stated under no uncertain terms that we do have a right to travel in the U.S.

The legal definition of a license is essentially permission to engage in an activity that would be illegal without it. But, can the government argue that they need to convert that right into a privilege and license it in order to track and keep tabs in its drivers? According to this ruling, it appears they can’t:

“...pure administrative convenience, standing alone, is an insufficient basis for an enactment which restricts the right to travel.” - Costa v. Bluegrass Turf Service, Inc. 406 F Supp. 1007

The roads were all paid for by we the taxpayers and we are thus all equally allowed free use thereof. But, if one is going to use those roads for his own profit or gain, that is where the license comes in.

The legalese the State's lawyers use to trick us into accepting a driver's license when we already have the right to travel is in the word, “operate.”

To “operate” a motor vehicle connotes using the road for profit or gain such as taxi cab, freight company, commercial bus line, etc. Those commercial entities do not have a right to use the roads free and clear because they are realizing a profit from the use thereof. This court ruling makes this point clearly:

"It is well established law that the highways of the state are public property, that their primary and preferred use is for private purposes, and that their use for purposes of gain (profit) is special and extraordinary, which, generally at least, the legislature may prohibit or condition as it sees fit." - Stevenson vs. Binford, 287 US 251; 77 L Ed. 288.

When a person asks for/accepts a driver's license they submit to the State's presumption that they are intending to use the roads for profit or gain and that is the privilege that can be suspended.

The right to freely travel never went away, the powers-that-be have just inherited a system that “this is the way we've always done it” so they don't even have a background for this information to integrate into. As for the dismissal this person asked me if he would get, it is unlikely since the judges are just going to tow the line for the system because it is the system (i.e. legislature) that gave them their jobs in the first place.

The whole concept of driving has turned into “operating” a vehicle which is for profit/gain. When a cop/judge/Secretary of State sees someone engaging in the former they've been taught it's the latter. Since they see everyone as “operating” for profit or gain, the commercial system that was set up before them years ago works quite well for their financial profit and control of the citizenry.

For example, it would be like requiring a license for everyone who wants to wear a red shirt on Tuesdays. For the first decade or so they would have to phase it in, requiring only a few select groups to get the license, couching it in terms that seem reasonable at the time. Then, as with all government programs, expand it to more and more of the demographic until a generation out everyone is required to have a license to wear a red shirt on Tuesday and nobody would question it. The cops would simply enforce it because that's what they were taught at the academy, judges would uphold it because it's “the law” and the Secretary of State - 70 years hence would just figure “that's the way we have always done it” with no idea how the phony law came into effect in the first place.

A similar thing has happened to dog licensing in Maine, which started out as a tax in the late 1800's to build a reimbursement fund to pay farmers who lost their sheep to wild dogs. It turned into a revenue collection point and now has nothing to do with sheep. But, that's how laws that are irrelevant continue to be enforced - by an unwitting, apathetic police, judicial branch and bureaucracy.

The solution to out of control government is simple, but not easy. It requires a mass education of the public and a willingness to not see politicians as our masters; then taking control of our own lives and not allow politicians to bully or control us with their illegitimate “laws.”


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