‘He couldn’t grasp the possibility that he might not understand the law’
My son and I had a wonderful time in Columbia on Monday. As readers of The Nerve are aware, I had a hearing scheduled at the offices of LLR (the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation) for the purpose of determining whether I’d be fined $500 and ordered to stop working without obtaining their permission – that is, a license.
I thought I was to appear before the Residential Builders Commission. Instead, I found myself presenting my case to a hearing officer, who would then discuss the facts with the commission behind closed doors, and then render a decision. An LLR attorney was to present evidence of my failure to obtain a license.
So I informed the hearing officer and the LLR attorney that they had no jurisdiction to conduct the hearing or proceed against me, fine me, or otherwise interfere with the conduct of my lawful, constitutionally protected rights. I pointed out that the law does not require me to obtain a license, but the law was written in such a way that it misleads most people into believing that they are required to be licensed. I also brought to their attention that if the law is not voluntary, as I claimed, then it would be unconstitutional – the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that fundamental rights, inalienable rights, cannot be converted into privileges.
We had a discussion between the three of us, and I believe the hearing officer was almost willing to consider that I might be right, yet he couldn’t seem to grasp the possibility that he did not understand the law. I use the word “law” here loosely. This is “law” they have been using successfully for years to fleece the public. This hearing was not proceeding as usual, and I think they were surprised by what I told them. They were even surprised, too, when I announced I would not further participate in the hearing and would be leaving to visit the governor’s office.
So I left. I don’t think anyone has ever walked out on them before. I visited the governor’s office and told my story to an aide in the constituent services office, reminding him the governor is in charge of LLR and bears some responsibility for their unlawful actions. He said she’d look into it. I also told the hearing officer before leaving: You do not have jurisdiction to order me to do anything, and if the LLR continues to harass me or otherwise interfere with my rights, I will file a restraining order and they will be required to appear in circuit court to explain why they should not be charged with violations of Title 18 Sec. 242 and Title 42 Sec. 1983, deprivation of rights under color of law. This is not an empty claim. The licensing law really is voluntary. Read it for yourself. Read carefully.
This is what will happen next: LLR will either dismiss the case or, much more likely, order me to “cease and desist” working without a license and fine me $500. They would expect me to appeal to an administrative law judge if I disagree. But I will bring the case to circuit court by filing the restraining order.
One of the most deceptive elements of the law is the use of the words “must” and “shall.” Wherever you see these words in any statute, if the law violates your constitutional rights, the courts will construe these words to mean “may” in order to avoid declaring the law unconstitutional.
The story continues. Stay tuned.
John Dalen, a resident of Westminster, has been a general contractor and business owner for over 30 years.