I’ve written a lot about self-declared “sovereign citizens” over the years, but even I didn’t know exactly how bizarre their ideas about the law are. I’d seen some of the filings of people like Glenn Stoll, who used to be (perhaps still is) Kent Hovind’s attorney. but ThinkProgress provides more information about it. To call their ideas bizarre is a serious understatement.
The core belief in play, according to a 2010 article from J.J. MacNab published in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s magazine, is that at some point in U.S. history, the Constitutional system of government was silently usurped by a shadow government that opens up corporate entities associated with every American born.
Sovereigns believe this shadow authority uses those corporations as borrowing leverage to keep the country financially afloat, MacNab wrote, effectively making every American that abides by that government’s rules a slave. Believers go through a process called “redemption” to sever their personhood from the government’s corporate entity established in their name, and from that point forward seek to resist any action that’s premised on federal authority rather than their own conspiracy theories…According to MacNab, sovereigns have developed a thorny mish-mash of legal tactics they call “common law.”
“There’s this whole history of sort of folk legal beliefs that often come up in context of the tax resistance movement, the tax protester movement,” said Walker. “People claim that under one imagined doctrine or another they don’t have to pay federal income tax, things like that. The sovereign citizen arguments are sort of in that family of beliefs.”
A sovereign citizen named David Myrland who allegedly plotted to “arrest” a Washington mayor provides an example of how sovereigns’ legal ideas look in practice. This is an excerpt from a brief he and another sovereign filed as part of a lawsuit against the prosecutors who put him in prison for three years for threatening officials:
For this federal-judge: David-Wynn: Miller’s-correction of the vassalees-fiction-syntax-grammar-pleadings is with the correction-participation-claim of this babble-indictment-evidence and: bad-probation-syntax=grammar-evidence. (Why did the vassalees do this case with a void-communications?) For the void-drogue-law, void-oath of an office, void-judge’s-oath, void-docking-court-house-vessel in the Washington-state-dry-dock and: void-original-lodial-land-title.
Strings of hyphenated word salad are the primary tool in the arsenal.
Wow. That would embarrass even Larry Klayman.