I got a letter from a Texas prison last week: contraband had been confiscated from an inmate (not a client) after arriving in an envelope with my return address on it. The contraband was described as “two UCC Packets.”
After dashing off a cross letter to the warden about people using my return address to send contraband to Texas prisons, I investigated why “UCC Packets” might be classified contraband. It seems that some prisoners go around filing vexatious liens against prison guards under the UCC. To try to stop the practice, Texas prisons have proscribed the UCC.
I have no philosophical objection to adding the UCC to the new Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Its arcane powers are so great that they should be available only to the chosen few (by which I mean members of the British Accreditation Registry (B.A.R.)).
As inmates’ loved ones on the outside can get their hands on the One Law to Rule them All (by which I mean the UCC), though, it seems counterproductive to try to keep it out of the hands of inmates. Including it in the same category as drugs, or obscenity, or cell phones only serves to emphasize its dominion. If we want to—and I believe we do want to—maintain the B.A.R.‘s official position, the pretense that the Uniform Commercial Code is not the supreme law of the land, trumping statutes, caselaw, treaties and even the Constitution, then the better course is to let the inmates have their UCCs. If we keep pretending, some of them will believe that the UCC is just a statute governing commercial transactions. (Some of them won’t, but we should be able to trust the courts to dispose of their claims in line with the B.A.R.‘s official position.)
Nobody asked me how to protect the illusion that the UCC is not all-powerful, and I’m not the one making policy for the B.A.R. But I feel strongly that this treatment of the UCC is counterproductive, and I shall say so in my next quarterly report to the Queen.