Dwindling Right to Freedom of Movement

BY T.F. STERN

Hello America, it’s a little over a week until we celebrate our Independence Day and consider all the rights and privileges associated with citizenship.  What did our founders have in mind for this Great Experiment in self-governance and, have we kept that vision?

Some folks call me a dreamer for holding on to my belief that America is the land of promise, that our constitution was divinely inspired and if applied properly would allow us all to achieve the highest level of personal freedom available on the planet; but according to the news media that term should be reserved for young illegal aliens who claim they are immune from immigration laws or that they shouldn’t be deported simply because their parents violated our immigration laws.

Maybe our sense of history needs to be ignited, like the fuse of a 4th of July bottle rocket sent into the night sky, a chance to remind us of battles long ago fought for… for what?  I know they fought for something; must have been for lower prices on Dr Pepper so we could enjoy grilled hamburgers with a stack of crunchy potato chips.  They fought so we could send a women’s soccer team to represent our country in the World Cup Games; well, most of the athletes on our team acknowledge and stand when our National Anthem is played…

Those battles were fought to define us as a nation that honors and respects inalienable rights of individuals, generally defined as Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  These rights were later specifically defined as the Bill of Rights in our Constitution; however, among the individual rights so defined, the individual’s right to freedom of movement within these United States wasn’t listed because our founders didn’t think individual freedom of movement would ever be in question.

“As early as the Articles of Confederation the Congress recognized freedom of movement (Article 4), though the right was thought to be so fundamental during the drafting of the Constitution as not needing explicit enumeration.”

If you bother to read up on freedom of movement it becomes painfully clear that not everyone considers individual movement an inalienable right.  There are regular and repeated attempts to whittle down the implied parameters associated with this right; giving the Supreme Court opportunities to redefine the limits to which government may infringe on individual movement.

“Current US Code addresses air travel specifically. In 49 U.S.C. § 40103, “Sovereignty and use of airspace”, the Code specifies that “A citizen of the United States has a public right of transit through the navigable airspace.”

It should be noted that this application was intended to cover travel within these United States only and does not apply when traveling to other countries; but hold the phone, it seems that there are changes on the horizon.

Starting in the year 2020, that’s only six months from now, individuals planning to go through TSA check-points at airports in order to travel within these United States of America will be required to present an updated driver’s license or state identification form with a Gold Star. (image courtesy of TSA)

Prior to boarding any aircraft, or heading towards secure areas such as terminal gates, travelers are forced to pass through government check points (TSA) at airports, presenting their boarding pass along with a valid photo identification issued by the state they reside.

This is a result of terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001; terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim foreign nationals that took down the World Trade Center buildings and a huge chunk of the Pentagon building.  Thousands were killed and injured and so the American public was presented with new security rules that were hastily agreed upon.  We were convinced that something, anything, needed to be done to secure the public’s safety; even if that meant giving up some of our precious liberty.

Apparently, having a currently valid driver’s license isn’t enough… You’ll have to get the new and improved version, one with a Gold Star to prove you’re a good subject of our government.

Could it be that some liberal minded states like California and New York have begun issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, individuals who lack any papers, perhaps this has eroded the value of having a state issued driver’s license or identification card.

Check points are found in lots of places other than airports as I’ve documented in the past.

“As part of an ongoing terrorism prevention and response program, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security hosted a statewide exercise on October 18-20, 2011.  TSA participated through its Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response program.

The exercise focused on improving the communications and operating relationships of state, local, and federal agencies when responding to any type of homeland security situation.

TSA VIPR personnel participated at multiple locations in the Tennessee exercise, supporting state and local personnel as they inspected vehicles to identify potential security threats.”

There are check points for people boarding ferries under the stated goal of preventing terrorism and along any public road.  It would appear that if you leave your house and drive on any public road your freedom of movement is no longer protected as an inalienable right

“Where society’s need is great and no other effective means of meeting the need is available, and intrusion on people’s privacy is minimal, checkpoints toward that end may briefly detain motorists.” (Michigan v. Sitz, 1990)

Here’s something worth remembering:

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”  Ben Franklin circa 1755

Enjoy our Independence Day; but do so with the understanding that our government no longer operates under the contract we have with them, the one we call the Constitution.


t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.