The Price We Pay

February 8, 1924 dawned cold and icy, just like any other winter morning in Emory Gap, Roane County, Tennessee.

But the day would prove far from ordinary.

Constable James Jett had information about an illegal moonshine still on the Newport family farm.  This was the era of Prohibition, and the U.S. Constitution had been amended to outlaw the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.”  This moonshining had to be stopped, and Constable Jett was determined to uphold the law by destroying the still and arresting the moonshiners.

Constable Jett couldn’t conduct a moonshine raid by himself; he was going to need some help. And he couldn’t think of anyone better to help him on the raid than Deputy Sheriff John Franklin Swann.  The two men worked raids together previously, and Deputy Swann was a good man he could count on to have his back. So Jett stopped by the Swann home that morning to ask for help.  John got his gun, and said goodbye to his wife Essie and their four small children. He promised to be home for supper and left with Constable Jett at about 8:55 a.m.

That was one promise John would not be able to keep.

At the farm, 15-year-old Leland Newport went up from the house to the family’s moonshine still to get something.  He arrived to find Constable Jett and Deputy Swann in the process of destroying the family’s still.  The two lawmen arrested and handcuffed Leland, and Constable Jett went down to the Newport house, presumably to make more arrests. He left Deputy Swann guarding Leland.

At some point, Leland managed to run off through the chicken lot toward the house.  An eyewitness said that Walter Newport, seeing his younger brother running toward the house handcuffed, called out to Leland “Son, what are you doing with them things on?”  Leland replied, “Jett and Swann arrested me and put ‘em on me.”

An eyewitness in the home said that upon hearing this, Walter grabbed his gun and left the house for the barn.  Less than a minute later, the witness heard shots ring out.  He hightailed it away from the Newport farm, fleeing from the trouble.

Two young men were rabbit hunting near the scene and witnessed the shooting.  Dewey Pressly and Roosevelt Stamps heard four rifle shots from either the barn or the nearby chicken house. Then the two men saw Constable Jett come running out of the Newport’s barn and fall down on all fours. They heard him loudly cry out “Oh!”

With the sharp sound of two more shots, Deputy Swann also fell. The two hunters heard him repeatedly crying “Oh Lord!” as he struggled to get back up.

According to stories passed down, it was Maynard Human who shot Deputy Swann.  Walter Newport and John Swann often played pool together at the local pool hall and Walter considered him a friend.  When Walter said he couldn’t shoot John, Maynard reportedly said “you have to” and took the gun from Walter and fired the fatal shot.

Deputy Swann’s liver was shot into pieces and part of it was completely severed, lying loose outside his body in the front of his shirt. Medical examiner Dr. H. M. Carr stated at the trial, “There was a piece of his liver about five inches long and two and a half inches wide that was out here under his shirt.”


Tennessee Outlaws Jerks

The State of Tennessee has actually done the impossible – jerks have been outlawed in Tennessee.  Not only are jerks outlawed, but now you can actually do hard time as a felon for being a jerk.  How has Tennessee accomplished such a mighty feat, you ask?  By outlawing and criminalizing freedom of speech and expression in the electronic world.

The new law (HB0300), which goes into effect on July 1, states that anyone who,

“Communicates with another person or transmits or displays an image in a manner in which there is a reasonable expectation that the image will be viewed by the victim by any method described in subdivision (a)(1), without legitimate purpose.”

The law covers any form of electronic communication, including internet, telephone, text messaging, and faxes.  The data transmitted could be anything from sound, video, pictures, or images.

Any communication in Tennessee could be construed as criminal if it is communicated:

“In a manner the defendant knows, or reasonably should know, would frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities; and As the result of the communication, the person is frightened, intimidated or emotionally distressed.”

Thus, you are a criminal jerk if you communicate with someone in a way that offends or emotionally distresses them.  Even more shocking is that only four legislators in the entire legislature voted against this draconian measure:  Sen. Mike Bell, Rep. Scotty Campbell, Rep. Joey Hensley, and Rep. Mark Pody.  Has the Tennessee General Assembly lost its mind?


TN Legislative Update – Week of May 1

Real ID Nullification

The Real ID Nullification Bill (HB1874/SB1638) was delayed a week in going before the full House Transportation Committee.  It has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 3.  This bill is critical to defend Tennesseans against the unconstitutional federal Real ID program, as well as the move toward a global ID card (to find out more about the alarming realities of Real ID click here).  Please continue to contact members of the Transportation Committee and encourage them to support this important bill.


Constitutional Tender for Tennessee?

cross-posted from the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center

Sen. Bill Ketron has introduced a resolution in the Tennessee General Assembly that will create a committee to study creating an alternative currency for Tennessee in the even of a collapse of the Federal Reserve.  SJR0098 is an important step towards bringing constitutional tender to Tennessee.

When our Founders wrote the Constitution, in Article I, Section 10 they wrote “No State shall … make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”  The reason for this is that historically fiat currencies, that is currrencies not made of or backed by gold and silver, always collapse.  The United States currently uses fiat currency in the form of Federal Reserve Notes that are not backed by gold or silver.

SJR0098 pending before the Tennessee General Assembly recognizes this and seeks to ensure the economic viability of the state in the event of a collapse of the Federal Reserve.  The resolution states:


Tennessee Passes Health Care Freedom Act

On Monday, the Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act cleared its last hurdle in the Tennessee General Assembly.  The House voted 70 to 27 to pass the legislation, following on the heels of the Senate passage of SB0079 on February 23.  This bill provides vital protections to Tennesseans who choose not to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress last year.   The Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act states:

It is declared that the public policy of this state, consistent with our constitutionally recognized and inalienable right of liberty, is that every person within this state is and shall be free to choose or to decline to choose any mode of securing health care services without penalty or threat of penalty.

It is declared that the public policy of this state, consistent with our constitutionally recognized and inalienable right of liberty, is that every person within this state has the right to purchase health insurance or to refuse to purchase health insurance. The government may not interfere with a citizen’s right to purchase health insurance or with a citizen’s right to refuse to purchase health insurance. The government may not enact a law that would restrict these rights or that would impose a form of punishment for exercising either of these rights. Any law to the contrary shall be void ab initio.

The bill will be heading to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk shortly.


Tennessee Legislative Update: Week of 02-27-11

We had a huge victory last week with the passage of the Tennessee Health Freedom Act by the Senate.  SB0079 sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers passed the Senate 21 to 10 with 1 present not voting.  Those voting against the bill were Senators Barnes, Berke, Burks, Ford, Harper, Haynes, Herron, Marrero, Stewart, and Tate.  Senator Kyle was present not voting.

SB0079’s companion bill in the House, HB0115 sponsored by Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver was recommended for passage by the General Subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee and is scheduled for review by the full Commerce Committee on March 1.  Please begin contacting the members of the Commerce Committee to express your support for the Tennessee Health Freedom Act.


Tennessee Senate Passes Health Care Freedom Act

On Wednesday, the Tennessee Senate passed SB0079, the Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers.  The bill passed with 21 Ayes, 10 Nays, and one Present Not Voting.  The Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act is essentially the same bill that passed in the Senate but failed in the House during the 2010 legislative session, with a few minor revisions.

Later in the afternoon, the House companion bill, HB0115 sponsored by Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, was recommended for passage by the General Subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee.  It will be forwarded to the full House Commerce Committee.  Contact information for the House Commerce Committee members is listed below.  Please begin contacting them now to express your support.

The Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act seeks to return the choice of health care and health insurance to individual Tennesseans instead of leaving decisions in the hands of the federal government.  While SB0079 does not nullify the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in its entirety, it prohibits Tennesseans from being penalized if they choose not to participate in a federal or federally-approved health care plan. 


2011 TN-TAC Legislative Priorities

The Tennessee General Assembly is gearing up to conduct the legislative business of Tennesseans in 2011.  Here at the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center, we have been preparing by reviewing Tenth Amendment Center model legislation and consulting with liberty leaders throughout the state to determine our top legislative priorities for the 2011 legislative session.  Below are our top six legislative priorities for Tennessee, along with links to download the model legislation.  We encourage you to download and print copies of each piece of legislation and share these with your legislators.  Urge them to sponsor, co-sponsor and support these bills in the Tennessee General Assembly this year.


Adopt a Legislator for the 2011 Legislative Session

The new session of the Tennessee General Assembly will begin in January 2011.  In preparation for the upcoming session, the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center is rolling out its Adopt A Legislator Program for the 2011 session.  With the drastic change in the House’s balance of power, we hope there is a better chance of getting Tenth Amendment legislation passed through the committee structure and onto the House floor this year.

To prepare for the upcoming session, we need to get Tenth Amendment Center model legislation in front of our legislators.  All of our legislation is listed below.  Click on the name of each piece of legislation to download a PDF that you can either e-mail or print and give to your legislators.  Additionally we are in the process of preparing some model legislation to deal with the airport body scanners as well, and hope to have that posted soon.

The important thing is for each person to adopt two or more legislators, either your own senator and representative or others, and help us get this legislation into their hands.  Encourage these legislators to introduce, co-sponsor, and vote for these pieces of legislation that are so critical to asserting Tennessee’s Tenth Amendment powers.  Most importantly, when you have contacted these legislators, go to our Contact Form, and let us know which legislators you have contacted, so we can track which legislators have and have not been contacted.


POET to Host Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

Patriots of East Tennessee (POET) will host all four Independent candidates for governor in a forum on Monday, September 20 at 6:30 PM. The forum will take place at South Knoxville Baptist Church located at 522 Sevier Avenue in Knoxville. Many members of the tea parties and liberty movement have expressed their displeasure at the…