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Sovereign Citizens Aren't the Only Lawless Rogues on the American Frontier

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Message Roger Shuler

Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

Sovereign citizens are attracting major attention in recent weeks, with an investigative piece on 60 Minutes and at least one major newspaper piece on the movement's impact here in Alabama.

Since the 60 Minutes piece debuted back in May, sovereign citizens have been all over the news. A sovereign citizen in Pensacola, Florida, opened fire on a seafood restaurant after learning it had run out of crawfish. (Seems like a perfectly reasonable reaction to us.) Meanwhile, sovereign citizens in Alaska are facing charges for allegedly plotting to murder a federal judge. Another sovereign citizen caused a ruckus at a bankruptcy hearing for a pizza chain in Chicago.

What is a sovereign citizen? It's an anti-government whack job who usually doesn't pay taxes, doesn't carry a driver's license, and doesn't hold a Social Security card or any other form of official ID. The individual considers himself "sovereign," and thus not subject to the laws of the United States.

In short, sovereign citizens consider themselves to be above the law. If that's the definition, we have a whole bunch of "sovereign citizens" in this country, although many of them go by other names. Some we call "judge." Some we call "lawyer" or "counsel." Others we call "CEO." In that last bunch are familiar names such as Ken Lay, Bernard Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski, and many others.

We applaud the attention paid to sovereign citizens. Law-enforcement experts consider them a prime threat for domestic terrorism, and some members of the movement have proven to be capable of violence. But the press and the public should keep this in mind: Lower-class fruitcakes who call themselves "sovereign" aren't the only Americans who act as if they are above the law. And violence is not the only form of terrorism. An alarming number of American elites, some acting under the color of law, practice a form of legal and financial terrorism that claims an army of faceless victims.

Consider just a few examples that we have reported on this blog:

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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