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Common Law

2000-08-08 21:56:03+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

Following up on the whole Sovereign Citizen thing, Seth passes along White Man's Ghost Dance, an essay on the notion of Common Law and why those who claim Sovereign Citizenship are courting the same sort of mythos that the Ghost Dancers who felt invulnerable to bullets did.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:14+00 by: shad0w

  1. So just because it's your opinion "it won't work in the real world", I should give up?
  2. The Constitution guarantees me certain rights. These laws take them away. The Constitution supersedes these laws. If it's that important to take my rights away, why don't you amend the Constitution?
  3. There are two kinds of Constitutionalists; those who don't act, but simply hope; and those who act, knowing it's likely to get them jailed or killed. None of us expect a Ghost Shirt to keep the bullets away.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:15+00 by: Dan Lyke

  1. It's not about "won't work in the real world", it's about pulling an epistemology from a flawed mythology.
  2. The U.S. Constitution guarantees you rights based on the Supreme Court's definition of the Constitution. If you wish to use that as your basis for right and wrong, then your energies are probably best served by donating lots of money to the ACLU.
  3. ... except that asking the courts to protect you from the laws based on an interpretation of the Constitution that differs from the courts' is expecting that the bullets can't kill you.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:15+00 by: Larry Burton

It all boils down to this, I've only got the rights that I can prevent you from taking from me. Might may not make right but might does allow me to retain rights. We can philosophize (is that a word?) and create all kinds of SimSocieties that we want but as long as there is one mighty person that sees the world as his for the taking then that is how it is going to be. I'm only as soverign of an individual as society will allow me to be. There is the way things ought to be and then there is the way things are.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:15+00 by: shad0w

Erm, I think you're mistaking "Constitutionalists" from the yahoos who have been (for instance) declaring that Texas is a sovereign state and Federal courts have no jurisdiction, etc. etc. It is VERY hard to get the Supreme Court to look at one of the laws deemed "bad", though a lot of effort is being put into it. The Supremes regularly duck controversial non-capital cases where a lower court has ruled the defendant guilty. One hopeful case is US vs. Emerson, which re-examines the individual right to bear arms. Are you aware that the foundation case where the right to bear arms is regulated was declared unconstitutional by the Federal Appeals courts, but when it reached the Supreme court, the defendants had since disappeared, and the case was brought only by the prosecution? And that the only reason it was found the government could regulate sawed-off shotguns was that the prosecution lied and said they had no value as militia weapons? (Sawed-off shotguns were used by the army in the Civil War and WWI; and the case was tried in 1933.) Another track being worked on is the validity of the 16th Amendment of the Constitution, which authorizes a Federal income tax. There is quite a bit of evidence that the 16th Amendment never even came close to passing, and was declared by fiat. Federal courts have refused to rule on suits brought by individuals on that basis; they've ruled that the Constitution is a treaty between states rather than a guarantee of individual rights. Only a state government can challenge the amendment's validity; and you know what the odds of that happening are. You can't simply sue the government because they prohibit you from doing something; the courts will say you have no standing, and dismiss the suit. To challenge the law your only recourse is to break that law, hope you survive being arrested, and hope your plea reaches a court with some effect. A lot of income tax protesters are doing just that; are you aware that filing an income tax form is VOLUNTARY? Many protesters are being found not guilty simply because the IRS' prosecutors can't tell the court where in the law it says people are required to file. That's because there is no such law. The ACLU? They certainly help, but their main concern is the First Amendment; they won't touch the Second and certainly aren't fighting the Sixteenth. The NRA helps a little with the Second, but has been compromising too much; there are other organizations that won't. Other organizations, like "We The People" are fighting the Sixteenth.

#Comment made: 2000-08-11 14:05:37+00 by: sethg [edit history]

The Militia Watchdog has a page called Idiot Legal Arguments: A Casebook for Dealing with Extremist Legal Arguments. You might want to look at that site, and the decisions posted there, before claiming that the 16th Amendment "never even came close to passing".

Wm. J. Benson, one of the co-authors of The Law that Never Was (which presumably deals with this issue), was convicted of tax evasion and got four years of prison and five years probation (which he apparently violated). See US v. Wm.J. Benson (7th Cir 1991) 941 F2d 598, 957 F2d 301, US v. Benson, 67 F3d 641 reh.den 74 F3d 152, Benson v. US (ND IL 1997) 969 F.Supp 1129.

Some quotes from various court decisions on this issue:

In US v. Foster (7th Cir 1986) 789 F2d 457 cert.den 479 US 883, the court decided that the arguments in The Law That Never Was were so thoroughly refuted that the court could impose sanctions of $5000 and double the usual costs and damages.

Regarding this claim that the income tax is voluntary, as one newspaper headline put it, if you believe this, you may be putting in some volunteer time in the Federal pen. I'll just cite the entries in the casebook that actually include quotes from the judge's ruling:

I think these cases involve exactly the sort of nudniks that Bob Black had in mind when he wrote his essay.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:15+00 by: webwide

I prefer the term "Sovereign Individual" as described on the pages of http://www.sovereignsociety.org "Throughout history, intelligent individuals have sought environments where personal freedom is maximized and risks to themselves and their assets minimized. Today, an escalating international migration is under way in direct response to threats by governments against their most productive citizens." From http://www.sovereignsociety.com/whatisit.html even a quick read will tell you this differs from 'Constitutionalists' in that the 'sovereign' individual doesn't stay and fume and fight against an overly intrusive nation or constitution but simply moves on to a sunnier clime.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:16+00 by: Dan Lyke

My favorite site on that tack is VoteWithYourFeet.