by David Tulis, ©2017, Noogaradio 1240 AM 92.7 FM

(Jul. 15, 2017) — [Editor’s Note:  Please see the author’s initial article on this case here.]

A Republican governor and his attorneys have marshaled technical arguments against an appeal by a defendant who a jury criminally convicted for exercising his “God-given, constitutionally guaranteed rights” to travel and self-defense.

Arthur J. Hirsch, 65, known as “the Fiddle Man of Lawrenceburg,” will make oral arguments Tuesday in Nashville seeking to overturn Tennessee’s commercial government’s abusive extension of a 1937 driver license act to all users of Tennessee roads, even against those not involved in commerce as common carriers.

The hearing in the “case of first impression” will be at 9 a.m. in the chambers of the criminal court of appeals. Mr. Hirsch, a devout Christian bachelor, argues that circuit court Judge Stella Hargraves made innumerable plain errors in denying a hearing on his challenge to jurisdiction, and that the state didn’t prove he was using his red-cabbed truck for the commercial purpose of hauling people or goods for hire under the pre-World War II act originally titled the “Uniform Motor Vehicle Operators’ and Chauffeurs’ License Act.”

State Ignores Travel, Gun-Rights Claims

The arguments raised in a reply brief are that Mr. Hirsch did not follow court rules, namely that his appeal is meritless because he did not file a motion for a new trial after he was convicted in December 2015 on three counts of traveling privately as a matter of right and one count of having a pistol in his truck cab without a carry permit.

The state ignores a large body of substantive issues that Mr. Hirsch raises in his defense, not only on the right of travel but the right to bear arms. Mr. Hirsch challenges the “intent-to-go-armed statute” as unconstitutionally vague and says it is based on efforts of the white legal and political establishment to suppress blacks after the Nat Turner slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831.

Mr. Hirsch believes that God has given him and all other people in Tennessee the right of property in free movement and that it has become his duty to assert it as against 78 years of abusive treatment by police and sheriffs’ departments and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

If he is not engaging in commerce as a common carrier, Mr. Hirsch says, he and everybody else — including tens of thousands of Spanish-speaking immigrants in Tennessee — are free to travel on the public right of way without entering into the special state privilege of operating a motor vehicle or transporting people or goods by registered and insured car or truck.

The idea of the driver’s license act is to regulate the for-profit use of the people’s roads, he says, and that he is not nor has ever been a common carrier for hire. The commercial statutes requiring licenses for drivers, state registration of VINs and mandatory insurance on all motor vehicles do not apply to his free exercise of his rights of travel and movement by car, truck or motorcycle, Hirsch says.

The state attorney in his brief ignores all the substantive issues that, if properly raised and properly considered, would overturn an important aspect of commercial government in Tennessee. Commercial government operates on the premise of total state jurisdiction through commerce. In other words, the state can own a particular activity by deeming it subject to regulation in commerce.

Driving vs. Travel

In practice, though not in law, state government pretends that all use of the public right-of-way is commercial and that no one may be there without a driver license, state registration of car or truck as a vehicle in commerce, and compulsory insurance to protect the public interest. So enculturated is this argument in the public mind in Tennessee by police stops and marketing in the public schools that even the judges hearing the appeal, no doubt, have a relationship with the department of safety to obtain and keep up driver licenses, as if they were haulers or cabbies.

The state says “defendant has waived all of his arguments because he failed to file a motion for a new trial raising the issues he wanted preserved for appeal.”

But the rules for appellate review allow appellate judges to be generous: “For good cause shown, this court may suspend the requirements of these rules” (Rule 2).

The state also says Mr. Hirsch “simply was not prejudiced by the trial court’s decision not to provide him a separate hearing [on jurisdiction] prior to trial.” As for Mr. Hirsch’s demand to know the nature and causes of the criminal claims against him, the state says Mr. Hirsch’s argument “is not at all clear, nor is it clear precisely what happened in the trial court.” He is thus not deserving of “plain error relief.”

The main argument in defense of Mr. Hirsch is that the statute is erroneously imposed on him. To Mr. Hirsch’s claim that he is not subject to the commercial driver license rules as a private traveler, the state says he is arguing that a Lawrence County circuit court doesn’t have jurisdiction over a criminal matter in Lawrence County — a rebuttal that doesn’t reach the Hirsch argument about the scope of the statute and whether that statute authorizes any criminal action whatsoever before circuit court judge Stella Hargrove.

If someone is accused under a statute whose scope does not reach the activity of the accused, the judge cannot be shown to have jurisdiction, even though the disagreement occurs in her county.

Clearly, statutes have an operating scope and limit. Mr. Hirsch says the driver license act applies only to for-profit businesses that are common carriers for hire. These might include long-haul trucking outfits, cab companies, courier services and dump truck contractors.

Biggest Liberty Issue in 80 Years

Mr. Hirsch is a practicing Christian with a heart for the poor and weak, known for his mercies to shut-in elderly and inmates in the county jail in Lawrenceburg. He says he represents tens of thousands of Tennesseans too poor to buy the privileges connected with operating a vehicle in commerce, and who are thus in the state’s theory banned from getting about in cars and trucks and prohibited from earning a living. The state’s routine abrogation of the right to travel contributes to the dire state of many poor people, who often are ensnared into the legal system through traffic enforcement.

The rights of all private users still exist, though enforcement of the Tennessee motor vehicle code pretends for decades of harassment of the public that they do not.

“The TMVC is voluntary by application and commercial in nature and deals exclusively with state taxable privileges granted by application for a fee to those who are engaged in commerce, i.e., transporting people or goods by motor vehicle for hire on the public highways. It has nothing to do with individuals exercising and enjoying their non-statutory, inherent, unalienable rights (outside of commerce) which are secured by state and federal constitutions. (In fact, unalienable constitutionally secured rights of the people of Tennessee are not mentioned in the TMVC.) It should be noted that the TMVC of 1937 did not abolish the inherent, unalienable rights of Tennesseans in their private, constitutional status which they had before the TMVC enactment into statutory/administrative law. Rather, the legislature instituted the TMVC to control those engaged in taxable privileged commercial activities (which the legislature has authority to do), i.e., those transporting goods and people for hire on the public highways, through licensure, rules and regulations enforced by police.”

The licensing regime is discriminatory and harsh, especially among poor Tennesseans, Mr. Hirsch says.

“State granted privileges are fee-based favors from the government that regulate taxable, commercial activities and are by nature and definition discriminatory and show respect of persons, i.e., they discriminate against and oppress persons who are poor, homeless, elderly,  handicapped, infirmed, ex-felons (non-violent, victimless crimes) who need to work and protect themselves and their families, the disenfranchised who live, work and travel in remote wilderness areas at risk from predatory animal attack, those who want their privacy and to be let alone, and people who chose to remain private and not engage in commerce. Revenue-generating (taxable) state privileges are granted only to those who voluntarily apply and are approved, who can afford to ‘pay to play,’ who promise to obey the ever-changing rules and regulations.”

Mr. Hirsch says his defense of his rights is a duty to God, because he is defending a providence and wealth given inalienably to every American by God. “[T]he people’s Creator-endowed (unalienable) rights are superior and antecedent to legislative statutes, and are not subject to the legislature’s regulation and control,” Mr. Hirsch argues.

“They are free and universal to everyone as their birthright and change not. Privileges statutes are constantly changing, and can be amended, repealed , suspended, or revoked at any time. Taxable privileges are enforced by ‘law enforcement’ offices. God-given rights are protected, not enforced, since there is no money involved.”

The attorney general’s office refused to comment on the case. Oral arguments are at 9:30 a.m. July 18 in the Tennessee supreme court building in Nashville.

David Tulis is a journalist who covers local economy and free markets in Chattanooga, Tenn., USA, and beyond. Active in the homeschooling movement, he is editor of a free market website,, and covers entrepreneurship, law and culture issues on the David Tulis show on Noogaradio 1240 AM 92.7 FM in Chattanooga (

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  1. This should be challenged in EVERY STATE!!!!! The states agreed to uphold the Constitution when they ratified it to become a state of the United States! But instead, bureaucraps have insisted on violating our basic rights, that are protected under the Constitution, with restrictive unlawful/unconstitutional laws, fees, and fines if their BS laws are violated! This will end up at the Supreme Court because the state legislature cannot afford to lose the billions in yearly revenue from the fees and fines they force on us.

  2. byron chapin – Spoken like a true sheeple! If you are not interested in fighting for your rights and love the government controlling you, then just pay your fees and fines, and we don’t want to hear another complain about ANYTHING the government does to you!

  3. Look, this is just loony “sovereign citizen”, “pure Libertarian” material that doesn’t hold up under common sense. It is reminiscent of the “Income Tax is voluntary” wish that traps hundreds annually. The state has every right to regulate the use of its public highways including an insurance requirement. Discriminatory toward the poor? Of course; many things are. The judge is entirely correct in saying (in effect) “You’re wasting the court’s time”.