Post by Dave Post by David S Chesler
By this reasoning there would be nothing wrong with requiring
a license to use any kind of a printing press more sophisticated
than hand-set movable type. And we could then point to that
license and conclude that there is no "freedom of the press",
just a "privilege of the press."
Hello, moron: a license to drive is a privilege -- not a right.
I don't generally answer this troll-of-many-pseudos whom I seem
to annoy so much, but this is exactly what the crux of the
question at hand is. First we would have to define our terms.
Generally when folks say something is a privilege rather than a right,
they are saying so in support of the state arbitrarily restricting
the exercise of that thing. I don't know if this has any foundation
SCOTUS does talk about "fundamental rights", including especially
those explicitly protected in the Bill of Rights. When a government
is going to abridge or infringe on them, its reasons must be examined
in the strictest scrutiny. Real Constitutional lawyers could tell us
the multipoint tests that apply to such rights generally, and to each
particular right, and could tell us which rights have been found to
Regardless of being a "fundamental right" or not, equal protection
and due process always apply. The governments can't be arbitrary; they
have to have at least a rational reason, but that's a very low bar.
Before there were automobiles there were public roads, and anyone was
free to use them without any license. A century ago when cars were
new they were scary, and everybody thought, and most people still think,
that there should be some assurance that only people with some training
and expertise ought to be allowed to operate cars on the road. We'll
let anyone walk or ride a horse or bicycle, but motor vehicles are
_different_. I personally think lots and lots of training is a good
idea; I'm not so sure that the current licensing scheme is the best
way to achieve safety. That is, how much worse would things be if
anyone who was generally competent to make contracts and so forth
were allowed to drive without bothering to go through the hoops that
just about anybody can go through anyway? (Such a system might require
more liabilities and punishments for bad driving, but it would avoid
what is called in other areas "prior restraint".)
But in any case, this licensing to restrict the formerly unlimited
ability to use the roads was for safety reasons.
In general we don't like cruel or unusual punishments. We don't like
scarlet letters. For lesser violations we impose fines; for greater
crimes we impose imprisonment. And we don't go messing with other
stuff, except when it's directly related to the crime, like a hacker
forbidden to use computers, or a child molester forbidden to have
contact with children. Losing the permission to drive as punishment
for having demonstrated oneself to be an unsafe driver by driving
drunk, or committing motor vehicle homicide, makes sense.
But then someone had the brilliant idea that it's so easy to pull
a driver's license, that it could be used as a creative punishment.
If someone who has only reached the age of majority in the past three
years drinks, pull his license -- some convoluted thinking can lead
one to think that the kind of kid who would drink at a party might
be just the kind of kid to drive irresponsibly. And if someone falls
behind on his child support, well anything is acceptable if it's
"for the children"! The current proposal is just another step down
that same slope.
- David Chesler <***@post.harvard.edu>
Iacta alea est