February 29, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

Opinion: Business Licenses Unconstitutional


I was busy repairing a homeowner’s porch when I was approached by a code enforcement officer who asked for my business license. After a short conversation, he issued me a Uniform Ordinance Summons, for violation of a city ordinance. I looked it up, Ord. No. CC-2012-22, Sec. 12-55:

Every person engaged or intending to engage in any calling, business, occupation or profession … within the limits of the City of Clemson, South Carolina, is required to pay an annual license tax for the privilege of doing business and obtain a business license as herein provided.

Further on in Sec. 12-57, the business license is referred to as a “privilege tax.” (Italics mine.) I had informed this agent that I was in fact engaging in a constitutionally protected right and that the City of Clemson had no authority to force me to obtain a license and/or charge me a fee for engaging in what the United States Supreme Court refers to as “a fundamental right.”

I have sent letters to this code enforcement officer, his boss, the Clemson City attorney, all the members of the City Council, and the Chief Magistrate for the city’s municipal court. I informed them their ordinance and summons are invalid and unenforceable as a matter of law. To back that up, I included a Memorandum of Law, detailing the Supreme Court cases that affirm my right to engage in the exercise of my rights to pursue my lawful business and/or vocation as guaranteed to me by the Constitution of the United States.

I received one reply, which ignored everything that I had written regarding the Supreme Court and the Constitution, and which informed me that there would be fines and possible jail time if I did not comply.

Americans have a right to rely on rulings issued by the United States Supreme Court. Apparently many city councils as well as county councils feel that the Constitution does not apply to their ordinances, regardless of what the Court says. This is not a gray area of the law. Some of the many cases I relied on include:

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, which finds the Constitution of these United States is the supreme law of the land. Any conflict is null and void of law.

Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, which finds that no state may convert a secured liberty into a privilege, and issue a license and fee for it.

Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, Alabama, 373 U.S. 262, which finds that, if the state converts your right into a privilege and issues a license and charge a fee for it, that fee is unconstitutional.

In addition, 16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec. 256:

The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. … No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.

Quoting from Butcher’s Union Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U.S. 762 (1884):

The right to follow any of the common occupations of life is an inalienable right.

And 111 U.S. 746, 757 (1884):

“The property which every man has in his own labor, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable.”

We have been endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. These rights cannot be legislated away, and they are not granted by government. The Constitution does not give us our rights – it only protects them by limiting the authority of government. All public officials, including judges, take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of these United States.

From Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43 (1906): When judges appear to become accomplices in the willful disobedience of a Constitution they are sworn to uphold, “we imperil the very foundation of our people’s trust in their government.”

It’s up to the individual to defend and protect the Constitution. According to the Supreme Court, you only have the rights you are willing to fight for. I will be filing a Title 18, Sec. 242 lawsuit for deprivation of rights under color of law. I will be filing a Title 42, Sec. 1983 lawsuit for deprivation of rights under color of law. I will also be filing a complaint with the FBI in order to begin a process of asking the U.S. Attorney General to bring a Title 18, Sec. 242 lawsuit against the City of Clemson.

John Dalen, a resident of Westminster, has been a general contractor and business owner for over 30 years.

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The Nerve