My goal is to have officials and state actors be hung by the tongue. Hung by their own words. I want them to live by the written law in light of our constitutional protections against any state action to which we are not lawfully subject.
Key in my defense of our ancient and Christian rights in courtrooms is the nature of state privilege.
Privileges are discriminatory grants of state favor that make an activity illegal unless one approaches the state and pleads for permission to do the illegal and illicit act. That may be hairbraiding. That may be accounting. Engineering. Using the road as a carrier of goods or people for hire.
In criminal matters in traffic cases, or in a lawsuit against an officer or a city, one establishes the following.
Namely, that privilege = occupation.
[This post is part of an exchange with local attorney Phil on the right of travel and the little understood mechanism by which the state abrogates constitutional rights so that it might conveniently operate a massive tax skimming operation upon the citizens (for safety and security reasons). Phil the lawyer has shown me great kindness in discussing this conflict. He argues against my analysis of constitutional rights, and takes great pains to correct me. If he’s right, we have many fewer rights than I claim, and we are subject to stop, search and seizure far more than we had realized, and it is vain to hope for any restoration of our rights or reformation in American law. My transportation administrative notice project is a racial reconciliation and reparations effort to halt traffic stops, the most damaging part of Tennessee’s Jim Crow legacy. Phil sharply discounts it. — DJT]
By privilege, state controls activity
In Tennessee, from the beginning, privilege is a calling or trade, as laid forth in the 1870 case Phillips v. Lewis.
That case holds “the settled judicial construction, interpretation, and definition of the term ‘privilege’ at the time of the adoption of our constitution in 1870, in which sense the term was used in that instrument, was “the exercise of an occupation or business, which requires a license from some proper authority, designated by general law, and not open to all, or any one, without such license.” The essential element of the definition is occupation and business, and not the ownership simply of property, or its possession or keeping it. The tax is on the occupation, business, pursuits, vocation, or calling, it being one in which a profit is supposed to be derived by its exercise from the general public, and not a tax on the property itself, or the mere ownership of it.”
In state law,
“The occupations, businesses and business transactions deemed privileges are to be taxed, and not pursued without license, and shall be such as are declared by this code or by legislative acts that are not to be deemed repealed by the enactment of this code.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-101. Privileges taxable — License required.
The people of Tennessee get driver licenses because they want to enter a business or occupation subject to tax, and need permission to enter it. Either that or they have been deceived into thinking they are forbidden from using the freeway and the public right of way unless they do so with state permission.
3 handlers of privilege taxes
The creation of the privilege system is in more than one set of hands, Phil. The department of safety handles part of the system. The department of revenue another. County clerks another part. The privilege of using a car for hire is taxed by clerks, who reap “the specific tax laid on the license and the fees.” The statute follows Phillips v. Lewis, which case I sent you, exactly.
“(a) Licenses for exercising all privileges for which license provisions are not otherwise made shall be issued on the applicant’s paying to the clerk or other proper officer the specific tax laid on the license and the fees.
(b) Except as otherwise specifically provided, it is lawful for county clerks to issue licenses by the quarter for the exercise of any privilege. Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-104. Issuance of license.
The history of this law starts in 1858, with modifications in 1883 and 1978.
A privilege is the carrying on of a business for which a tax payment is required. That business we are examining, Phil, is under the rubric of transportation (use of car or truck or other self-propelled equipment for hire).
Black’s 4th edition defines privilege this way:
PRIVILEGE. A particular and peculiar benefit or advantage enjoyed by a person, company, or class, beyond the common advantages of other citizens. An exceptional or extraordinary power or exemption. A right, power, franchise, or immunity held by a person or class, against or beyond the course of the law. Waterloo Water Co. v. Village of Waterloo, 193 N.Y.S. 360, 362, 200 App.Div. 718; Colonial Motor Coach Corporation v. City of Oswego, 215 N.Y.S. 159, 163, 126 Misc. 829; Cope v. Flanery, 234 P. 845, 849, 70 Cal.App. 738; Bank of Commerce & Trust Co. v. Senter, 260 S.W. 144, 147, 149 Tenn. 569; State v. Betts, 24 N.J.L. 557.
Privilege tax. A tax on the privilege of carrying on a business for which a license or franchise is required. Southeastern Express Co. v. City of Charlotte, 186 N.C. 668, 120 S.E. 475, 477; Gulf & Ship Island R. Co. v. Hewes, 183 U.S. 66, 22 S. Ct. 26, 46 L.Ed. 86.
We are examining privileged travel (taxable) vs. travel for pleasure and private use (nontaxed). Please admit this distinction before we go any further.
Taxpayer. Nontaxpayer, Phil.
Counties are allowed to “levy privilege taxes upon merchants and such other vocations, occupations or businesses as are declared to be privileges” and then to collect the tax “as a condition precedent to the operation of a motor vehicle” in the county. Look for yourself.
‘Operation of motor vehicle’ taxable
(a) Privilege Taxes Authorized. Each county is empowered to levy privilege taxes upon merchants and such other vocations, occupations or businesses as are declared to be privileges, not exceeding in amount that levied by the state for state purposes.
(b) Motor Vehicle Tax — Authorization. Each county is empowered to levy for county purposes by action of its governing body a motor vehicle privilege tax as a condition precedent to the operation of a motor vehicle within the county. The tax may be levied on any motor vehicle taxable by the state. 5-8-102. Privilege tax — Motor vehicle tax. (Emphasis added)
Notice that “operation” of the car as a “motor vehicle” is the activity subject to tax. Not the property, Phil, but the activity in the car — the operation of the car. Conveyances are registered (converted) into motor vehicles because they serve a state interest, a commercial purpose and so affect the public health, safety and welfare — subject to police power. (Which police power we can deal with later; the law indicates only the highway patrol has authority to enforce the revenue and safety laws via Title 55, motor and other vehicles.
To be able to see a car, to put its eyeballs on a car, the state effectively puts on a pair of glasses, and it sees not a car, but a motor vehicle. THAT it can control and regulate. A motor vehicle it can see and understand. A mere car it can do nothing to touch. A mere car and its use is not under its authority unless the user in it has committed a crime under Tenn. Code Ann. Title 39, the criminal code.
Here’s the detail on how a car is converted into a motor vehicle, Phil, so it can be used by a privileged person.
(a) (1) As a condition precedent to the operation of any motor vehicle upon the streets or highways of this state, the motor vehicle shall be registered as provided in this chapter.
(2) The registration and the fees provided for registration shall constitute a privilege tax upon the operation of motor vehicles. Tenn. Code Ann. 55-4-101. Registration required before operation, etc.
The commissioner of safety, who administers the department of safety and homeland security, is the registrar of motor vehicles, the steward and overseer and surveilor of these subject cars and the privileged activity by those using them.
Occupation, business, trade
Phil, the fees are a “privilege tax” upon the “operation of motor vehicles.” Again, the operation of motor vehicle is the activity that is the business, occupation or trade subject to police power.
What about private cars used by private people, not in business, not carrying on a trade or occupation, but simply used with no business connection? The law strong suggests that as a matter of presumption that if one has registered a private car with the commissioner, one is bound by all the rules because its use is as a motor vehicle.
You may use the family car for vacationing, going to the store, visiting your aunt across town, going shopping, heading to church, for purely social and personal reasons, apart from any contract to use the car as a carrier.
Nonetheless, the statute makes clear that every car so registered is commercial, and is subject, even if “not operated for hire.” This claim is evident in the 30-day deadline given for new residents in Tennessee.
(b) (1) The commissioner shall be, and is constituted, the registrar of motor vehicles and, except as otherwise provided in chapters 1-6 of this title, every owner of a vehicle intended to be operated in this state and required by this chapter to be registered shall, before same is operated, apply to the department for the registration of, and the registration plates for, the vehicle.
(2) Notwithstanding subdivision (b)(1), any regularly licensed passenger motor vehicle that is not operated for hire and is owned by a nonresident who establishes residency in this state may be operated in this state for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days from the date that residency is established. Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-4-101 Registration required before operation — Application — Issuance of registration and license plates — Rules and regulations — Temporary permit — Transfer of registration when changing vehicles — Fees — Safety rules for homemade trailers. (emphasis added)
If you are using your car under statute, you’d better have a valid Class D driver license if you are using that car for hire now and then (as common or private carrier).
Rider? Passenger? One pays
A private car or auto, in the context of state regulation, is a “passenger motor vehicle.” The person in the right-hand seat next to the “driver” is not a rider, but a passenger. Here’s Black’s 4th:
PASSENGER. A person whom a common carrier has contracted to carry from one place to another, and has, in the course of the performance of that contract, received under his care either upon the means of conveyance, or at the point of departure of that means of conveyance. Bricker v. Philadelphia & R. R. Co., 132 Pa. 1, 18 A. 983, 19 Am.St. Rep. 585; Schepers v. Union Depot R. Co., 126 Mo. 665, 29 S.W. 712; Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Price, 96 Pa. 256; The Main v. Williams, 14 S.Ct. 486, 152 U.S. 122, 38 L.Ed. 381; Horne v. Southern Ry. Co., 186 S.C. 525, 197 S.E. 31, 35, 116 A.L.R. 745
As I have suggested from beginning of our discussion, the motor vehicle code is for commercial users. If I am a private traveler, I’d better be careful to indicate that I am not a driver, and that the person next to me is not a passenger, but a rider or guest.
That the transportation law is enforced by several parties against private users is the problem my administrative notice project addresses. That is the problem I am trying to solve and halt, particularly since it has a wicked effect upon minorities and the poor, and is immoral and unjust in terms of God’s law and in terms of man’s. I am speaking in defense of the law, Phil, seeking to uphold proper use of the law, and to halt an improper and criminal use of the law.
Abuse of law is human trafficking
The current practice of arresting noncriminal private travelers is nearly criminal, or actually criminal, a nuisance, a tort, an oppression, a form of racketeering, a type of extortion and theft, a form of state-sponsored human trafficking. As a Christian who has studied this affliction, I have a duty to bring it to an end.
In closing, read the first sentence of the motor carrier law at Title 65-15-101. Notice the distinction between the traveling public (the people of the state of Tennessee) on one hand and the subcategory, those who use the road for private profit and gain (shippers and haulers). People on one hand, business on the other. This 20 percent or so of vehicular traffic use the roadways in “transportation of persons and property by motor vehicle” for hire.
It is declared that the legislation contained in this part is enacted for the sole purpose of promoting and conserving the interest and convenience of the public by conferring upon the department of revenue and the department of safety the power and authority, and making it the duty of the department of revenue and the department of safety to supervise and regulate the transportation of persons and property by motor vehicle over or upon the public highways of this state, and to supervise and regulate certain businesses closely allied with such motor transportation .
The department has its rules online at https://publications.tnsosfiles.com/rules/1340/1340-01/1340-01-13.20190630.pdf that might be worth a look.