Here’s one I’ve been saving up for more than four years, only now realizing its true relevance. It’s not really about drivers’ licenses; it’s about the Internet and the future of communications.

First, the exchange. You may have read it on CompuServe.

From John, a disgruntled citizen, addressed to “All”: CAN GOVERNMENT FORCE YOU TO CONTRACT WITH A THIRD PARTY? (i.e. Auto Insurance, Health Insurance Alliances, etc.) NO! This is also specifically prohibited here in the Republic of Arizona by our Constitution. Are you aware that the Federal Courts have decided that it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL to require a person to obtain a driver’s license, auto registration or mandatory insurance in order to travel on our nation’s roads, highways and waterways. See Chicago Motor Coach vs. Chicago Volume 169 of the Northeastern Law Reporter, p. 22 (in your local law library) where the court stated that “Travel is NOT A PRIVILEGE requiring licensing, vehicle registration OR FORCED INSURANCE.” Also see Sheer vs. Cullen Vol. 481 Federal Reporter p. 945; Vol. 11 American Jurisprudence (1st) Constitutional Law, Section 329, p. 1135, which states: “The right of the citizen to travel upon the public highway and transport his property thereon, by horse-drawn carriage, wagon, OR AUTOMOBILE, is NOT A MERE PRIVILEGE, which may be prohibited at will, BUT A COMMON RIGHT, which he has under the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” [Emphasis added]

Just so you know, my wife and I do carry liability insurance, BUT only because we need it for asset protection. We do not license or register our cars, and we have revoked our driver’s licenses. Instead we carry a Sovereign Travel Permit (a photo ID imprinted with our affidavit #, as recorded in our local county recorder’s office) issued to ourselves, by ourselves, as is EVERYONE’S right under Common Law.

We know this information is correct, as I’ve already been pulled over twice by law officers for expired plates. As soon as they saw my affidavit, there was no ticket, no warning, just a “Have a nice day, sir!” Why are YOU letting the government steal your money in the form of driver’s license fees, vehicle registration fees (hundreds of $ every year in some states), etc.?

A.T.: Pretty scary, no? But soon there was this reply.

From Craig, a deputy attorney general who, fortunately, happened to be passing by the CompuServe forum: Just in case anyone else had decided to throw away his license and registration, I spent a few minutes today looking up the cases cited in the message to which this is a reply. Chicago Motor Coach v. Chicago, a 1929 case decided by the Illinois Supreme Court, is a case about whether the City of Chicago could require the Chicago Motor Coach Company to get a license from the city to use public streets when the company already had a certificate from a state agency. The court said that Chicago didn’t have that power. The case contains this statement, “The Legislature may prohibit by general law the operation of motor vehicles upon the highways of the state. …” It says later, “Even the Legislature has no power to deny to a citizen the right to travel upon the highway and transport his property in the ordinary course of his business or pleasure, though this right may be regulated in accordance with the public interest and convenience.” John quotes the court as having said, “Travel is NOT A PRIVILEGE requiring licensing, vehicle registration OR FORCED INSURANCE.” That sentence simply doesn’t appear in the case I read. Perhaps it’s missing because of some strange typo. It would be surprising if the court had said it since the case had absolutely nothing to do with drivers’ licenses, vehicle registration, or forced insurance.

As for the other case John cites, Sheer v. Cullen, it’s a case in which a court said the IRS had unlawfully fired an IRS agent for failing to produce certain documents when the IRS tried to audit its own agent. John doesn’t explain how this case relates to his beliefs about the Constitution and driver’s licenses, auto registration, or mandatory insurance.

Our library doesn’t have a copy of the other source John cites, American Jurisprudence, 1st edition, since the first edition was replaced long, long ago, by the second edition. I was thus unable to check the quotation. (The quoted language is a slightly surprising statement to find in a legal treatise since it seems to imply that citizens have direct rights under Constitutional law to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The quoted language is from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.)

In any event, though I can’t give legal advice, I would suggest that people might be acting in a rather dangerous manner to their own liberty and property to ignore their state’s laws on automobile registration, operation, and insurance.

A.T.: All of which leaves me, and perhaps you, wondering: How can someone bright enough to make legal citations and find his way to a CompuServe forum be so nuts? And, more to the point, how are we to tell truth from fantasy in the great new world of cyber-publishing?

I attended a panel discussion a few years ago that included such bright lights as Rich Jaroslavsky, who headed The Wall Street Journal On-Line, and Esther Dyson, who lived down the street from Einstein when she was a little girl (suggesting that genius may be contagious), and one of the few things on which these cyber-seers seemed to agree was the increasing, not decreasing, importance of “editorial input” on the Internet. Sure, they said, anyone can publish anything on the net. But with zillions of choices, people will thirst more than ever for editors to do two things: direct them to the good stuff and certify its accuracy. So don’t give up on the old brand name publishers just yet.



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