A Legal Response to the Sovereign Citizen Movement

59 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2018

Date Written: August 24, 2018


From fringe on the flag to capitalization of certain words, Sovereign Citizens routinely defy normal conventions of legal and constitutional analysis when interacting with the United States’ legal system. Sometimes that defiance is seen as merely humorous or tediously confusing; however, many Sovereign Citizens also employ violence and “paper terrorism” to support their claims of autonomy from the government. Unsurprisingly, most courts brusquely dismiss the group’s rhetoric as meritless or frivolous. But such a terse dismissal betrays one important point: The Sovereign Citizen movement is made up of thousands of U.S. citizens that distrust the federal government and are actively trying to limit its power through reference to the Constitution.

This article seeks to fill an understanding and communication gap by providing civil servants, law enforcement, and the judiciary with a comprehensive reference guide to the Sovereign Citizen’s major claims and their failings under the Constitution. To do so, the article refutes Sovereign Citizen claims regarding:

(1) the jurisdiction of the federal government over actual flesh and blood citizens;

(2) the ability to tax citizens and redeeming the “strawman” (the so-called “Redemption Scheme”); and

(3) the individual’s completely unencumbered right to travel.

Suggested Citation

Kalinowski, Caesar, A Legal Response to the Sovereign Citizen Movement (August 24, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3238417 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3238417

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