Papers! Show Me Your Papers!

Do we the people have a right to travel, unrestricted, between states? That’s a good question. Opponents of this concept are quick to point out that the Constitution does not specifically mention anything about free travel within the United States of America. Does that mean that the TSA and various other government agencies are allowed to do whatever they please to travelers because traveling is a privilege and NOT a right? That’s exactly what the TSA has been claiming lately. They need to re-read the Constitution. Particularly, the ninth and tenth amendments:

Ninth Amendment – Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Tenth Amendment – Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

These amendments make two things very clear. First, that if the federal government is not granted authority over something by the Constitution, they have no authority in that situation. Second, that all rights are not specifically named within the Constitution; lack of mention alone is not grounds for denial of a particular right. We can reasonably conclude that since the government has not been granted the authority to interfere with or restrict the travel of private individuals between states that they cannot. The TSA has neither right nor authority to exist, let alone accost people choosing to travel. Remember, we are talking about checkpoints and searches relating to travel within the states themselves.

Let’s take it a step further and look now at the fourth amendment:

Fourth Amendment – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Aha! The government is quite emphatically restricted from searching or seizing (arresting or detaining) anyone or their possessions without a proper warrant. A proper warrant must specifically list the place being searched. Let’s say that Jane Brown is flying from Boston to Atlanta to visit family. When the TSA agents presume to search her luggage and her person, do they have a warrant with her name on it stating exactly what they are looking for? No? I didn’t think so. Their invasive luggage searches, full body scanners and humiliating “pat-downs” are quite obviously prohibited by the Constitution!

The TSA is involved in more than just the airports now. They are also ramping up “security” measures at bus stations and train stations. There is no form of mass transportation that is free of their criminal interference.

The government claims that all forms of transportation are a privilege, including travel by car. Traveling in your own private automobile isn’t free from their meddling! Don’t forget the “Border Patrol” checkpoints miles away from the United States border. Shouldn’t Border Patrol checkpoints be at the border? Nevertheless, they will stop you, ask you all sorts of questions, demand to see ID, search your car and your person and maybe even scan your vehicle using potentially dangerous backscatter x-ray or gamma ray scanners. Where is their authority? You’re not crossing the national border. They don’t have a warrant to search your car or to detain you.

Clearly, we do have a right to freely travel among the states without interference by the government or their agents. Even the courts acknowledge that. “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.

So, are we being unreasonable when we assert that the TSA “security measures” are outrageous and violate our rights? No, we should have been asserting this the moment the TSA came into existence! The first time a bag was searched, the first time a traveler had to submit to the pat-downs and the first checkpoint in the middle of the state should have all been treated as the criminal intrusions that they are. Long before this we should have demanded that they cease and desist and made sure not to re-elect those complicit in the creation of these agencies and policies.

I’m reminded of a scene from the movie “The Hunt for Red October”. This movie is about the officers of a Russian sub who are defecting to America. At one point the Captain and his First Officer are talking about what they want to do when they get to America. The First Officer was astonished to discover that the people were allowed to freely travel between the states whenever they liked. “No papers?” was his exclamation. The Captain assured him, “No papers.”

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