Whats the deal with Sovereign citizens?

A guy at work was telling me how he was applying for a Sovereign citzenship of the United States. He mentioned that he will get a drivers liscence that is good anywhere in the world, and will not have to pay taxes. Obviously a lie, AFAIK, nobody is exempt from taxes.

So whats the Straight dope on Sovereign Citizens? Is this guy getting scammed into believing something false, or is there really such a thing?

I have never heard of Sovereign citizenship in the United States.

Sovereign is defined in my American Heritage dictionary in part as follows:


sov·er·eign 1. One that exercises supreme, permanent authority, especially in a nation or other governmental unit, as: a. A king, queen, or other noble person who serves as chief of state; a ruler or monarch. b. A national governing council or committee.


They’re idiots who live in a dream world. They believe that if they say the right magic incantations, the law won’t apply to them. There is no such thing as “sovereign citizenship” except in their fantasy.

Like the tinfoil hat brigade, all they do is give moderate patriots (in the sense of “part of the patriot movement/subculture”) a bad name.

I haven’t heard of it being a scam, per se, although that’s possible. As far as I know, most of the people who claim to believe this silliness really do.

I may be getting it mixed up with another one, but here goes. The idea behind soverign citizenship is that ‘United States Citizen’ is a specific term that only applies to certain types of people mentioned in the 14th amendment (basically, people who were not considered citizens of their state like slaves). By declaring yourself a ‘soverign citizen’ or citizen of a particular state, you are no longer a ‘United States Citizen’ and so are exempt from any laws that apply to a US citizen, such as tax laws and vehicular laws. Needless to say, not many people buy this twisty argument, especially the group of people who are judges.

And it’s a scam because people will offer to sell materials and ‘consulting’ on how to become a soverign citizen, most commonly to try to get out of paying taxes. This sort of thing works about as well as trying to get out of a ticket by claiming that it doesn’t apply to you because they capitalized your name wrong or based on the trim on the flag in the courtroom; that is not at all. If you go to the IRS site http://www.irs.gov/ and poke around at the tax fraud page, you can find some info on ‘soverign citizenship’ and the fact that, whether the argument makes sense to you or not, the courts don’t buy it.

I think this site: http://www.militia-watchdog.org/ has some information on them. Are they like the Freeman Group?

Really scary bunch of people.

Your friend may also wish to read the data on his international driver’s license with a bit more attention. The thing’s not valid in the country where issued. Such DLs are so you don’t have to go through the hassle of getting a local DL in a country which does honour the IDL but doesn’t honour your home DL.

Here we go:

I never cease to be amazed at the kind of stuff people are willing to believe. Truly amazing. The scary part is these people also have the right to vote and to be in juries.

Don’t put much stock in that militia-watchdog site either. Morris Dees is a known fraud.

“Gee, one <insert any political party> said something I don’t like so they’re all terrorists”

Yea, those militia folks are really scary. :rolleyes: [sup]1[/sup]
[sup]1[/sup][sub]You apparently haven’t checked out my webpage.[/sub]

That Sovereign citizen movement web page mentioned that The SC is a white supremist movement, or neo-nazi. Perhaps if the guy at work is being recruited for this by somebody else I should warn him. He is African-American, and might be in danger if this site is to believed.

Cite to reputable sourcing please.

Or is this part of the name game?

I didn’t say all militia people were scary. I said the Sovereign Citizen movement people were scary.


Seriously. I’m talking about the hardcore, Montana Freeman, people, the types who live in compounds and shoot anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. The conspiracy theorist types.

Guin babe, you’ve been watching too much TV…


Sovereign citizen, white supremacist, and militia have nothing to do with each other, except that there are some people who are part of more than one of these groups.

There appears to be large coincidences between the three and extremist behavour.

Again substantive cite to your characterization of Morris. I’ve never seen him characterized as a fraud. He has a POV --as you clearly do as well-- but I’ve only seen reputable (as opposed to disreputable) people express respect for his work.

Which is not to say he may or may not be wrong in his evaulation of some groups.

An Australian I know once tried to use an IDL in Louisiana when he got stopped by a cop. The cop had never heard of an IDL and when he was told that it was recognized by the US govt by treaty, the cop allowed as he had heard of the US govt, but it had no jurisdiction over LA traffic laws. The cop was doubtless wrong, but are you going to go to court to establish it? On the other hand, as far as the cop was concerned an Aussie driver’s licence was fine, more or less like a NY or CA licence. I have found that my own licence seems to be valid anywhere, so I have not got an IDL, which seems useless. I do have a DL with no expiration date issued by a Swiss Canton that is probably valid everywhere too. None of which has any connection with the OP.

Look, I’m not saying MILITIAS are scary. I’m saying the extreme fringe groups are scary. That’s just where I found the information, that’s all.

D’uh, I thought we were supposed to have militias, for defense and things like that. I’m saying I find people like the Sovereign Citizens scary.



Do a google search on Morris Dees, after the Southern Poverty Law Center (who he works for), almost all the rest of the top hits are against him.