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For years professionals within the criminal justice system have acted on the belief that traveling by motor vehicle was a privilege that was given to a citizen only after approval by their state government in the form of a permit or license to drive. In other words, the individual must be granted the privilege before his use of the state highways was considered legal. Legislators, police officers, and court officials are becoming aware that there are court decisions that disprove the belief that driving is a privilege and therefore requires government approval in the form of a license. Presented here are some of these cases:

CASE #1: "The use of the highway for the purpose of travel and transportation is not a mere privilege, but a common fundamental right of which the public and individuals cannot rightfully be deprived." Chicago Motor Coach v. Chicago, 169 NE 221.

CASE #2: "The right of the citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, either by carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a city may prohibit or permit at will, but a common law right which he has under the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Thompson v. Smith, 154 SE 579.

It could not be stated more directly or conclusively that citizens of the states have a common law right to travel, without approval or restriction (license), and that this right is protected under the U.S Constitution.

CASE #3: "The right to travel is a part of the liberty of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment." Kent v. Dulles, 357 US 116, 125.

CASE #4: "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 v. Dulles 96 App DC 287, 225 F2d 938, at 941.

As hard as it is for those of us in law enforcement to believe, there is no room for speculation in these court decisions. American citizens do indeed have the inalienable right to use the roadways unrestricted in any manner as long as they are not damaging or violating property or rights of others. Government -- in requiring the people to obtain drivers licenses, and accepting vehicle inspections and DUI/DWI roadblocks without question -- is restricting, and therefore violating, the people's common law right to travel.

Is this a new legal interpretation on this subject? Apparently not. This means that the beliefs and opinions our state legislators, the courts, and those in law enforcement have acted upon for years have been in error. Researchers armed with actual facts state that case law is overwhelming in determining that to restrict the movement of the individual in the free exercise of his right to travel is a serious breach of those freedoms secured by the U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions. That means it is unlawful. The revelation that the American citizen has always had the inalienable right to travel raises profound questions for those who are involved in making and enforcing state laws. The first of such questions may very well be this: If the states have been enforcing laws that are unconstitutional on their face, it would seem that there must be some way that a state can legally put restrictions -- such as licensing requirements, mandatory insurance, vehicle registration, vehicle inspections to name just a few -- on a citizen's constitutionally protected rights. Is that so?  

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