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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Rolling Stone never Collects any Lilberals

Timothy Birdnow

There is a right so fundamental to America that it is never even mentioned. Freedom presupposes the ability to move freely about the land. Despotism always clamps down on freedom to travel, issuing travel permits to it's citizens, and thus regulating where people are. I wrote a piece a while back about this fundamental right.

My argument was that, by driving the price of gasoline high, the government was backdooring travel restrictions for Americans, and that as free people we have a right to demand that government policy not be designed to drive up the cost of travel.

From my 2008 article at Enter Stage Right:

"Just as the right to own property was not included because it was seen as self-evident, the right to move about is one of the roots of liberty, something absolutely unabridgeable in a free society and likewise self-evident. A number of the individual States incorporated this fundamental right into their constitutions, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled early on in Corfield v. Coryell (1823) and in a series of subsequent rulings (Paul v. Virginia, Ward v. Maryland, U.S. v Harris, etc.) the right to travel was a fundamental thing, although it was not specifically within the jurisdiction of the United States government; after all, those rights were reserved to the States and the People.

Then we must consider this:

"Personal liberty largely consists of the Right to locomotion to go where and when one pleases only so far restrained as the Rights of others may make it necessary for the welfare of all other Citizens. The Right of the Citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, by horsedrawn carriage, wagon, or automobile, is not a mere privilege which may be permitted or prohibited at will, but the common Right which he has under his Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Under this Constitutional guarantee one may, therefore, under normal conditions, travel at his inclination along the public highways or in public places, and while conducting himself in an orderly and decent manner, neither interfering with nor disturbing another's Rights, he will be protected, not only in his person, but in his safe conduct." - American Jurisprudence 1st, Constitutional Law, Section 329, p. 1135.

In fact, mobility rights have become a part of international law, with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights declaring that:

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

So even liberals should appreciate the importance of freedom of mobility; the U.N. declared it a fundamental right! It is not just about building roads and bridges, either; it means that the government of the United States has a duty to encourage the free movement of her citizenry by whatever manner those citizens see fit.

This freedom we take for granted has a long pedigree, going back to Persian King Cyrus the Great's permission of his newly conquered subjects to move about his empire freely (and thus allowing the Israelites to return to their homeland). The Magna Carta had this to say about the right to travel:

''It shall be lawful to any person, for the future, to go out of our kingdom, and to return, safely and securely, by land or by water, saving his allegiance to us, unless it be in time of war, for some short space, for the common good of the kingdom: excepting prisoners and outlaws, according to the laws of the land, and of the people of the nation at war against us, and Merchants who shall be treated as it is said above.''

This fundamental right of movement is, as is true of all rights, something that does not impose any burden on others, but does require governments to cooperate in it's free exercise. Heavy restrictions on travel, or burdensome regulations on the means of travel, act to deny this fundamental liberty. After all, there is a reason the government builds roads and bridges, and enforces traffic laws; without these things the public would find mobility difficult, and their right to move about restricted. Liberals are always complaining about infrastructure, so they should understand the necessity of this fundamental right; why spend money on building thoroughfares if people can't afford to use them?"

End excerpt.

Yet our dear government continues to seek to restrict the ability of Americans to travel. The newest dodge is the TSA.

Reason Magazine has a good article about the TSA interference in the right to mobility for American citizens with the U.S.

According to Andrew Napolitano:

"Of all the inalienable rights we possess as individuals, none is as basic, fundamental, and natural as the freedom of movement and travel. As human beings, we enter this world bestowed with two legs and feet and the muscles needed to power them. Furthermore, we are given a brain and the undying yearning to discover, to know the unknown, to see what lies hidden beyond the horizon. Thus, a fundamental right of movement is inherent in our very humanity. It is altogether fitting that one of the universal symbols of freedom is a broken chain.

The freedom to travel is also central to the American national psyche. Our European ancestors settled here because they had the right to move freely from their homelands. The very history and trajectory of the United States are testament to man’s inherent right to movement and travel, from Lewis and Clark to Armstrong and Aldrin.

State restrictions on the right to travel connote that the government is the individual’s master, and not his servant. The right to own property includes being able to decide which individuals may enter upon our property, and under what circumstances. If the government usurps this ultimate right from property owners, or grants itself a monopoly over certain modes of travel, then clearly the rights of individuals extend only so far as the government, and no one else, wills them. Thus, circumvention of the right to travel is particularly antithetical to the Natural Law, and to the principle that the temporal is always subject to the immutable. Freedom subject to the government’s whim is no freedom at all. Liberty, at its core, is encompassed in the right of exit. As constitutional scholar Randy Barnett has noted, if one wishes to discover which nations offer the best protection of natural rights, one only need observe the directional flow of its refugees.

American courts have, at least in theory, declared the freedom to travel to be near absolute. The right to travel is so basic to our nature that the Founding Fathers did not believe it needed to be documented in the text of the Constitution. In Saenz v. Roe (1999), the Supreme Court stated, “We need not identify the source of [the right to travel] in the text of the Constitution. The right of free ingress and egress [to enter and leave] to and from neighboring states which was expressly mentioned in the text of the Articles of Confederation, may simply have been conceived from the beginning to be a necessary concomitant of the stronger Union the Constitution created.” In other words, the right to travel is simply implicit in the concept of freedom, and indeed in the Constitution itself."

End excerpt.

And right he is! The ability to move about freely is so fundamental a liberty as to be indivisible from the enumerated rights of the Constitution, falling under the the 10th Amendment. What value is freedom of speech if you cannot go before the public to present your case? If you are only free to speak in your own home you do not have freedom of speech. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of assembly, which presupposes freedom of mobility. Ditto freedom of religion. Ditto freedom of the press. Ditto every one of our freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. You cannot exercise freedom if you are locked away.

It's important to consider. Our government continues to make restrictions on how we use roads, what types of automobiles we can drive, how we fuel them, and even restricts where we can go in many instances. Snowmobilers who become lost and wind up on government land in blizzards face serious legal penalties. Gov ernment locks up huge tracts of land, keeping the public (who owns them) out. Red light cameras and speeding cameras keep a watchful eye on the traveling public. One must have a special licence to drive certain vehicles, or move certain things. Increasingly, we are a nation whose movements must be approved.

That is not at all what the Founding Fathers had intended. Restrictions to travel were only supposed to be restrictions by private individuals determining how to use their own property, not government. Public accomodation laws, while well intended, said that a shopkeeper did not have control on who entered their premises; government can compel him to accept anyone, and to do business with anyone, just because it had the power to force him. There was and is no good legal justification for the cornerstone of Civil Rights. It was a shameful thing, and could have been done without damaging so fundamental a right. There are ways to entice that do not abrogate a cornerstone of American freedom.

I wrote about the importance - and abrogation - of property rights here.

Once property rights were abridged, the right to mobility was soon to follow. Diminish these two and you can no longer credibly claim to have a free nation. Property rights are largely gone, with governments regularly seizing property because it wants something. We have eminent Domain abuses. We have wetlands laws which allow government to stop any development on a property because it develops a mud puddle on a rainy day. We have drug forfeiture laws, where government seizes property involved in drug transactions. We have high property taxes, often too high for the widow or inheritor to pay, and the property is forfeit to the State. We have public accomodation laws. We have licencing requirements of every stripe, property codes telling owners what they can and must do on their land, etc.

And now, when my home is no longer my castle nor even truly my own hovel, they are trying to control and regulate my ability to move about.

It's hard to hit a moving target. The ability to move gives people the ability to stay ahead of the regulators, to make their social engineering experiments fruitless. The Left knows this, and wants to keep everyone under their thumbs. Any restrictions they can place on movement is for the good, because it keeps people where they can be squeezed.

We need to awaken the public to this.

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