Modern outlaws and “sovereign citizens” threaten the rule of law

A 2010 photo shows an unofficial license plate on a vehicle belonging to an Ohio resident who was later convicted on federal charges related to Sovereign Citizen activities. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

In May 2024, an Oklahoma man was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of two women, becoming the fifth member of an anti-government group called “God's Outsider“ to be confronted with such accusations.

Since the investigation remains to be ongoing, details about God's Misfits are still scarce. The members of the group could possibly be a part of the so-called “Sovereign Citizen Movement – People who imagine they owe no loyalty to any government and should not obliged to obey laws.

My research to sovereign residents has found that they’ve long lively within the USA and other countries. Their core idea is to disclaim the legitimacy of the federal government. They often don’t register their vehicles, obtain driver's licenses or automotive insurance, and don’t pay taxes. And they pose a big threat to the general public.

Harassment and abuse

One threat they pose is “paper terrorism,” through which public officials are intimidated with legal threats. Sometimes officials are targeted because they’ve arrested or prosecuted someone from the movement.

This method involves filing forged deeds and liens against public officials who sovereign residents imagine have wronged them. District Clerk Are hit the alarm.

This kind of motion – a type of fraud which may be illegal – is rare throughout the country, but common in some placessaid local and federal officials.

In 2023, a person from New Mexico is predicted has filed a $20 million lien on the property owned by federal employees, which he believed was linked to the termination of his Social Security advantages. All in all, he allegedly filed false liens price $1 billion against federal employees.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office has charged him with Retaliation against a federal worker through false allegationsCourt documents discover the person as a sovereign citizen who describes himself as “Private Attorney General.” He is awaiting trial.

Further threats of violence

The FBI considers sovereign residents as Threat of domestic terrorism.

In April 2024, a person from Utah charged in federal court with stalking after allegedly telling Salt Lake County Archives staff that that they had committed treason and were facing the death penalty.

Court documents show that the person called himself a “sovereign citizen” and asserted quasi-legal claims that Prosecutors seek advice from arguments commonly utilized by sovereign residents – Claims which have been dismissed by a judge as “frivolous and without merit.” The trial is scheduled to start on July 1, 2024.

A man in an orange shirt stretches his hands out to the sides.
Darrell Brooks, a sovereign citizen who represented himself in his criminal trial, was found guilty of killing six people by driving an SUV through a parade in Wisconsin in November 2021.
Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, Pool


Sovereign residents have killed Police officers and Civilians. David Brookswho represented himself in court as a sovereign citizen, was found guilty in October 2022 of killing six people when he drove an SUV through a Christmas parade.

Dejaune Anderson, a self-proclaimed sovereign citizenis accused of neglecting her 5-year-old son a lot that he died of dehydration. Her Process still pending.

Traffic stops may be particularly dangerous for the police because sovereign residents often disobey the essential orders of their officials. Sometimes this tendency can result in violence.

In April 2024, two cops in Florida investigated a report of a person traveling in a vehicle in a public park after the park had closed. The person identified himself as a “Moorish sovereign citizen,” a kind of sovereign citizen who claims that People of African-American descent should not subject to US law due to a Treaty between the USA and Morocco of 1787which implies nothing of the kind.

During the following argument, the person is claimed to have shot on the officers and injured them before he was killed by the police.

A brand new subgroup

In recent years, a brand new variant of sovereign residents has emerged, referred to as American residents. In my researchI learned that they gather on social media and at seminars, with their leaders teaching the normal ideology of the sovereign citizen, together with latest methods that supposedly allow them to live outside the law.

For example, political leaders teach their followers that driver's licenses, marriage certificates, Social Security cards, vehicle registrations, and voter registrations are “contracts with the government” that provide the premise for the duty to obey the law.

Citizens of American states are asked to cancel or revoke these documents by filling out a series of forms sold by the seminar leaders for about $250 along with the $150 seminar fee. They are then asked to submit the documents to District Clerk and even the US State Department. They are told that by doing in order that they might be out of the reach of the US government.

A wanted poster of a man.
Paul Grice is one among several sovereign residents facing charges in reference to two kidnappings and a murder.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation via Kansas Reflector

Paul Grice, the fifth member of God's Misfits to be arrested on this Oklahoma kidnapping and murder case, reportedly sent his Package with documents by registered mail to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Paradoxically, American residents are also told to acquire a federal document that the group members call a “non-citizen passport.” They imagine that this document will many special privilegesincluding the undeniable fact that they are not any longer US residents and revel in immunity from US law. They imagine this, although US law applies to anyone throughout the borders of the United States.

In reality, this document does nothing of what they think. The document, officially referred to as “Certificate of nationality of a non-citizen,” is actually intended for people born in one of the US possessions such as American Samoa. Contrary to what sovereign citizens think, the document certifies that its holder “owe eternal loyalty to the United States.”

The convictions of sovereign residents haven’t yet modified in any Court within the USA or abroad. As one Australian law lecturer said of a case involving a sovereign citizen of Australia: “No court in Australia, no court in the USA, Canada, anywhere else that I have seen,has ever accepted the legal arguments of sovereign citizens.”

The conversation

Christine Sarteschi doesn’t work for, seek the advice of for, own shares in, or receive funding from any company or organization that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond her academic employment.

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