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697 P.2d 1216
STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,
David R. GIBSON, Defendant-Appellant.
Court of Appeals of Idaho.
March 25, 1985.
David Gibson, in pro. per., for defendant-appellant.
Jim Jones, Atty. Gen., Lynn E. Thomas, Sol. Gen., A. Rene
Fitzpatrick, Deputy Atty. Gen., Boise, for plaintiff-respondent.
David Gibson was convicted of failure to carry proof of liability insurance
on his motor vehicle, I.C. s 49-245, and failure to register his motor
vehicle annually, I.C. s 49-116. The magistrate imposed a fine and one-year
Gibson appealed to the district court, which affirmed. He then appealed
to us, raising four issues: (1) Do the courts of the State of Idaho have jurisdiction
over a case in which the state is a party? (2) Is a "free man," who
withholds his consent to be regulated, nevertheless subject to the law? (3)
Is a jury of six persons permissible in a misdemeanor case absent the consent
of the defendant? (4) Are federal reserve notes legal tender for the payment
of state imposed fines? Because we answer each of these questions in the
affirmative, we affirm.
Gibson's first argument is apparently that Idaho state courts have no jurisdiction
in this case. He cites Article III, s 2, clause 2 of the United States Constitution: "In
all cases ... in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have
original jurisdiction...." This original jurisdiction, however, is "not
to be interpreted as conferring such jurisdiction in every cause in which the
State elects to make itself strictly a party plaintiff of record and seeks
not to protect its own property, but only to vindicate the wrongs of some of
its people or to enforce its own laws or public policy against wrongdoers,
generally." State of Oklahoma v. Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Co., 220 U.S. 277, 289, 31 S.Ct. 434, 437, 55 L.Ed. 465 (1911) (emphasis added).
We hold that the courts of Idaho, not the United States Supreme Court, have
original jurisdiction in this case.
Gibson next argues that he "has not accepted the [motor vehicle operator's]
license and by not accepting the license, has not consented to be regulated
in the Free, and of course, responsible, exercise of his rights of liberty,
and the use of his property." (Emphasis original.) In other words, he
contends that he need not obtain liability insurance or register his car unless
he first agrees to obtain an operator's license. Only then, according to Gibson,
is a "contract" with the state created, binding him to the laws related
to the use of motor vehicles. The "rights of liberty," however, are
not entirely free. Individuals must sacrifice part of their "liberty" in
order to empower a government to regulate, through passage and enforcement
of laws necessary for the general public welfare. John Locke, the English philosopher
who wrote of government and freedom, said: "Where there is no law, there
is no freedom." Quoted in W. BLACKSTONE, COMMENTARIES ON THE LAW 69 (B.
Gavit ed. 1941). A law is "an ordinance of reason for the common good,
made and promulgated by him who has care of the community." L. FRANKEL,
LAW, POWER AND PERSONAL FREEDOM 64 (1975) (quoting St. Thomas Aquinas).
Blackstone also commented on man's liberty: The absolute rights of man, considered
as a free agent, are denominated the natural liberty of mankind, which consists
in a power of acting, as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control,
unless by the law of nature; being a right inherent in us by birth, when God
endowed man with free will. But every man, when he enters into society, gives
up a part of his natural liberty, as the price of so valuable a boon, and obliges
himself to conform to those laws, which the community has thought proper to
establish. Otherwise there would be no security to individuals in any of the
enjoyments of life. BLACKSTONE, supra, at 68-69. Gibson "entered into" our
society when he began to live in it. He has no right to unilaterally withdraw
from society, rejecting his obligations to that body, while at the same time
retaining the advantages of that society--advantages for which others have
sacrificed part of their liberty. John Marshall, the great Chief Justice of
the United States, said "the best rule for freemen ... in the opinion
of our ancestors [those who had produced and ratified our constitution], was
... that ... of obedience to laws enacted by a majority of" the people's
representatives. II A. BEVERIDGE, THE LIFE OF JOHN MARSHALL 402 (1916). See
also Mutual Loan Co. v. Martell, 222 U.S. 225, 32 S.Ct. 74, 56 L.Ed. 175 (1911).
Marshall also stated: Whenever hostility to the existing system shall become
universal, it will be also irresistible. The people made the constitution,
and the people can unmake it.... But this supreme and irresistible power to
make or to unmake, resides only in the whole body of the people; not in any
sub-division of them. The attempt of any of the parts to exercise it is usurpation,
and ought to be repelled by those to whom the people have delegated their power
of repelling it. IV A. BEVERIDGE, THE LIFE OF JOHN MARSHALL 352 (1919) (emphasis
Furthermore, we note a premise dating back at least to the time of Plato: "The
'just powers' of government derive from 'the consent of the governed.' " E.
Rostow, "The Obligation To Obey Valid Law In A Society Of Consent," in
FRANKEL, supra, at 759. Rostow concluded from this premise that in a society
of consent the powers of government are just in Jefferson's sense: that is,
they are legitimate, because authorized and renewed by procedures of voting
all must respect. As a consequence, a citizen of such a society owes his fellow
citizens, and the state they have established together, a moral duty to obey
valid laws until they are repealed or fall into desuetude. Id. (emphasis original).
Indeed, one of the maxims of common law provides: "The sovereignty of
the state over its citizens is supreme." BLACKSTONE, supra, at 952. While
our discussion of Gibson's first two issues has been general, we are inevitably
led to these specific conclusions: The laws requiring an operator of a motor
vehicle to carry proof of liability insurance in his motor vehicle and to register
the motor vehicle annually are valid laws enacted by the state. See, e.g.,
State v. Reed, 107 Idaho 162, 686 P.2d 842 (Ct.App.1984). Gibson has a legal
duty to obey them.
Gibson also argues that he did not voluntarily consent to being tried by a
six-person jury and he therefore had the "right to a Common Law Jury of
twelve." Article 1, s 7 of the Idaho Constitution provides in part that: "in
cases of misdemeanor and in civil actions within the jurisdiction of any court
inferior to the district court, whether such case or action be tried in such
inferior court or in district court, the jury shall consist of not more than
six." (Emphasis added.) The Idaho Constitution thus not only permits a
six-person jury, but it forbids a greater number. A jury composed of less than
twelve is also permissible under the sixth amendment to the United States Constitution.
Williams v. Florida, 399 U.S. 78, 90 S.Ct. 1893, 26 L.Ed.2d 446 (1970). In
Williams, the trial court refused the defendant's request to seat a twelve-person
jury instead of a six-person jury. The Supreme Court held that such refusal
did not violate the defendant's constitutional rights. The defendant's lack
of consent in Williams did not imbue him with the right to a jury of twelve;
nor did Gibson's lack of consent allow him to insist upon such a jury. Neither
the Idaho nor the United States Constitution requires it.
Gibson finally argues that the state cannot compel him to pay his fines in
federal reserve notes. This is not a novel argument. See cases cited in Herald
v. State, 107 Idaho 640, 691 P.2d 1255 (Ct.App.1984). He claims if a state
can require fines to be paid in federal reserve notes, that state violates
Article I, s 10 of the United States Constitution. The constitution does, in
fact, forbid states to "make anything but gold and silver coin a tender
in payment of debts." However, Congress, which is authorized to coin money
and regulate its value, has decreed federal reserve notes to be "legal
tender for all debts, public and private." 31 U.S.C. s 392 (emphasis added).
State officials are bound by the definition of legal tender promulgated by
Congress. If Congress has defined federal reserve notes to be legal tender,
states must abide by such a definition. See Allen v. Craig, 1 Kan.App.2d 301,
564 P.2d 552 (1977). Therefore, the state may compel payment of fines in federal
reserve notes or other coins and currencies of the United States. We wish to
assure Gibson that payment of his debts by means of federal reserve notes extinguishes
those debts and leaves him indebted to no one. We have examined the other arguments
presented in this case and find them also to be without merit. The district
court's order is affirmed.
WALTERS, C.J., and BURNETT, J., concur.
to Tax Protestor Exhibit