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Limits on the Right to Exit: The New Slavery

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The federal fascists respond with threats and vilification when a few knowledgeable citizens renounce their American citizenship and move — with capital and assets that they have accumulated by honest endeavor — to a more hospitable state, one that does not mulct them as rigorously by the theft benignly called taxation. The government bullies, who threaten to follow the departed and to claim their “rightful share” of the emigrant’s assets, apparently mean to wreak violence upon those who exercise their right to exit. Such threats sound less hollow now that the current political apparatus has emasculated all vestige of the rule of law in the cases of Osama bin La-den and Anwar al-Awlaki.

We live in strange and frightening times. Most of my ancestors came to this land two or three centuries ago in search of a free life. They had tired of the constant wars and rumors of war, of conscription and compulsion and slavery, of princes and other jackals who robbed rich and poor alike, enabling the robber to live an unproductive life of ease. In those halcyon days of yore, most immigrants came to this new and lightly populated land far from the Arabic, Asian, and European maladies, to a place where distance alone provided them a better and freer opportunity to make their own choices and to abide by the results. To those sturdy yeomen, freedom was not a word bandied about recklessly; it comprised an essential concept of universality and duality: liberty meant that one chose his path in life and bore responsibility for the consequences of his choice, and it also necessarily and concurrently entailed recognition that all other persons deserved the equivalent freedom.

In simple terms that even a modern United States senator should comprehend, the freedom to come to America necessarily includes the freedom to leave this country for any reason whatsoever without having to explain and defend that choice and without any fine or tax or any other penalty. In the context of interstate immigration and emigration within the United States, the Supreme Court of the United States has placed its imprimatur on an unimpeded right of mobility to move within the union. By a parity of any acceptable reasoning, that right of mobility must include the right to outbound mobility as well, an absolute freedom to leave this country without any requirement to state or prove any “acceptable” reason.

Any restriction on the freedom to exit disparages a fundamental human right and necessarily condemns the emigrant to a modern and odious slavery. Does that assertion of slavery misstate or overstate the case? The untutored mass, graduates of public institutions of state indoctrination, associate slavery with skin color. In fact, readers of history recognize that the past is littered with slaves of every kind, kindred, color, and other description. Slavery exists when one class or group within a society enjoys legal power to direct the conduct of another class or group to their detriment and in contradiction to the equal liberties all others enjoy. The right to leave represents a seminal element of human liberty, a cognate extension of the fundamental right to life. Hence, the new slavery differs little from the old failed systems, and it deserves the opprobrium of all free men.

This article was originally published in the November 2012 edition of Future of Freedom.

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    Ridgway K. (Dick) Foley Jr., an appellate litigator, practices law in Oregon and resides in Southern Arizona.