Sovereign Citizenship
By Scott Eric Rosenstiel

Washinton Crossing the Delawar by Emanuel Leutze

Sovereign Citizenship is the status held by our forefathers. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and everyone else who won their freedom from the British Empire had this status. It was the birthright of all Americans, and we were generous in extending this most important right to foreign-born persons through the naturalization laws. With this status, our unalienable rights of life, liberty, and property couldn't be infringed. During the Civil War a method was discovered by the leading attorneys, financiers, and politicians of the day to deprive us of this status. Fortunately, we can get it back. This brings us to the question, "What are we getting back?" What does it mean to be a Sovereign Citizen? The word "sovereign" is defined in the 6th edition of Black's Law Dictionary, published in 1990, as being, "A person, body, or state in which independent authority is vested; a chief ruler with supreme power; a king or other ruler in a monarchy." Prior to the War for American Independence, the British king was the sovereign and the American people were his subjects. The war's outcome changed all this:

The sovereignty has been transferred from one man to the collective body of the people - and he who before was a "subject of the king" is now "a citizen of the State." State v. Manuel, North Carolina, Vol. 20, Page 121 (1838)

Thus, the people became Citizens of their respective states. But more importantly, for the first and only time in recorded history, the people were recognized as being the true sovereigns:

It will be sufficient to observe briefly, that the sovereignties in Europe, and particularly in England, exist on feudal principles. That system considers the prince as the sovereign, and the people as his subjects; it regards his person as the object of allegiance... No such ideas obtain here; at the revolution, the sovereignty devolved on the people; and they are truly the sovereigns of the country, but they are sovereigns without subjects... and have none to govern but themselves... Chisholm v. Georgia, Dallas" Supreme Court Reports, Vol. 2, Pages 471, 472 (1793)

Each individual, at least so far as respects his unalienable rights is his own sovereign. These rights weren't given to any government. In fact, they can't be. Perhaps you can give up all of your rights, if you so choose, but who has the power to give your rights up for you? In America, no one can, because we're all equal. In American this principle of popular sovereign is recognized by all governments - state and federal. When the states became independent, the state governments were formed, all of them based on the authority of the people, and not the will of one man or a small body of men. The federal government as we know it today was created in 1789 when the federal constitution went into effect. The constitution mentioned something previously unknown in American law: Citizenship of the United States:

The term, citizens of the United States, must be understood to intend those who were citizens of a state, as such, after the Union had commenced, and the several states had assumed their sovereignties. Before this period there was no citizens of the United States... Manchester v. Boston, Massachusetts Reports, Vol. 16, Page 235 (1819)

Thus a Citizen of a state is, by the federal constitution, made a Citizen of the United States. This means the following:

A citizen of one state is to be considered as a citizen of every other state in the union. Butler v. Farnsworth, Federal Cases, Vol. 4, Page 902 (1821)

A Citizen of any one of the states is considered and treated as being a Citizen of all of them. The phrase "Citizen of the United States" does not refer to a separate class of citizenship:

A citizen of any one of the States of the Union, is held to be, and called a citizen of the United States, although technically and abstractly there is no such thing. To conceive a citizen of the United States who is not a citizen of some one of the States, is totally foreign to the idea, and inconsistent with the proper construction and common understanding of the expression as used in the Constitution, which must be deduced from its various other provisions. Ex parte. - Frank Knowles, California Reports, Vol. 5, Page 302 (1855)

Because of the principles enunciated in the above cases and others like them, it's correct to say that the American people are Citizens of our respective states. But we're more than this. We're in a very real sense Citizens of all the states. We are, in the greatest sense, and proudly so, Citizens of the several United States. This brings us to what are considered as being the rights inherent in Citizenship in America:

When men entered into a State they yielded a part of their absolute rights, or natural liberty, for political or civil liberty, which is no other than natural liberty restrained by human laws, so far as is necessary and expedient for the general advantage of the public. The rights of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring and protecting reputation and property, - and, in general, of attaining objects suitable to their condition, without injury to another, are the rights of a citizen; and all men by nature have them. Douglass, Adm'r., v. Stephens, Delaware Chancery, Vol. 1, Page 470 (1821)

These are the rights inherent in Sovereign Citizenship. So long as we remained Citizens, they couldn't be taken away from us. So the key was to take our Citizenship away from us.

ARTICLE #2: Fourteenth Amendment Citizenship

If you look through the copy of the United States constitution found in the 1990 edition of Black's Law Dictionary, you'll notice something very interesting. The word "Citizen" is always capitalized until you get to the fourteenth amendment, which was adopted in 1868. After that, it's no longer capitalized. This isn't an isolated occurrence either. In the definition of "Dred Scott Case," a supreme court case decided before the fourteenth amendment, they capitalize "Citizen," but everywhere else in the dictionary, where it refers to the laws of today, the word isn't capitalized. As you shall see, this is just one small indicator of many that the fourteenth amendment created a new class of citizen. This is certainly no secret to the legal community. In fact, under the definition of "Fourteenth Amendment" it says, "The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States... creates... a citizenship of the United States as distinct from that of the states..." This class of "citizen of the United States" was new; it was unknown to the constitution prior to 1868. This wasn't the status of our forefathers. In the first sentence of the definition of "United States" found in Black's, it says, "This term has several meanings." Pursuing this further, we find that one of the definitions is the "collective name of the states which are united by and under the Constitution." This is what the framers of the constitution meant by "Citizen of the United States" - that is, the Citizen of one state is to be considered and treated as a Citizen of every other state in the union. Used in another sense, though, the term is simply the name of the federal government. This is what is meant by "citizen of the United States in the fourteenth amendment":

Privileges and immunities clause of Fourteenth Amendment protects only those rights peculiar to being citizen of federal government; it does not protect those rights which relate to state citizenship. Jones v. Temmer, Federal Supplement, Vol. 829, Page 1227 (1993)

From the authorities above, we can see that the fourteenth amendment created citizenship of the federal government. This status is a privilege granted by the government:

Citizenship is a political status, and may be defined and privilege limited by Congress. Ex Parte (NG) Fung Sing, Federal Reporter, 2nd Series, Vol. 6, Page 670 (1925)

It goes without saying that the federal government can regulate the privileges it creates. By definition, "citizenship" is the basis of a person's relationship with the government. In the legal sense, everything else is built upon it. Therefore, since fourteenth amendment citizenship is a privilege, every aspect of the citizen's life could potentially be regulated. Worst of all, this new class of citizen does not have the right to invoke the protections of the Bill of Rights, as explained in the following supreme court case:

We have cited these cases for the purpose of showing that the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States do not necessarily include all the rights protected by the first eight amendments to the Federal Constitution against the powers of the Federal government. They were decided subsequently to the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment... Maxwell v. Dow, 176 US 598 (1900)

This isn't an idea peculiar to the turn of the century either. Going back to the "Jones" case, which was decided in 1993, we find the courts of today saying, "The privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects very few rights because it neither incorporates any of the Bill of Rights not protects all rights of individual citizens." Although fourteenth amendment citizens have no guaranteed access to the Bill of Rights, the amendment itself does state that they have certain "privileges and immunities." Here's what the supreme court has decided they are:

Privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, on the other hand, are only such as arise out of the nature and essential character of the national government, or are specifically granted or secured to all citizens or persons by the Constitution of the United States. Slaughter-House Cases, supra, p.79; Re Kemmler, 136 U.S. 436, 448, 34 L.ed. 519, 524, 10 Sup. Ct.Rep. 930; Duncan v. Missouri, 152 U.S. 377, 382, 38 L.ed. 485, 487, 14 Sup.Ct.Rep. 570. Thus, among the rights and privileges of national citizenship recognized by this court are the right to pass freely from state to state (Crandall v. Nevada, 6 Wall. 35, 18 L.ed. 75); the right to petition Congress for a redress of grievances (United States v. Cruikshank, supra); the right to vote for national officers (Ex parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651, 28 L.ed. 274, 4 Sup.Ct.Rep. 152; Wiley v. Sinkler, 179 U.S. 58, 45 L.ed. 84, 21 Sup.Ct. Rep. 17); the right to be protected against violence while in the lawful custody of a United States marshall (Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263, 36 L.ed. 429, 12 Sup.Ct. Rep. 617); and the right to inform the United States authorities of violation of its laws (Re Quark, 158 U.S. 532, 39 L.ed. 1080, 15 Sup.Ct.Rep. 959). Twining v. New Jersey, 211 US 78 (1908)

As discussed in the last article, Sovereign Citizens created government to guarantee them their rights. In contrast, it would seem from the above that the federal government created fourteenth amendment citizenship to guarantee its power. As a side note, this amendment has always been controversial. Many people over the years have questioned the amount of power it vests in the federal government. Some have even questioned its validity. On one occasion Judge Ellett of the Utah supreme court remarked:

I cannot believe that any court, in full possession of its faculties, could honestly hold that the amendment was properly approved and adopted. State v. Phillips, Pacific Reporter, 2nd Series, Vol. 540, Page 941, 942 (1975)

However, the most important fact about this amendment is that, although it created a new class of citizen, it did not have any effect on Sovereign Citizens. Both classes still exist:

When the Constitution was adopted the people of the United States were the citizens of the several States for whom and for whose posterity the government was established. Each of them was a citizen of the United States at the adoption of the Constitution, and all free persons thereafter born within one of the several States became by birth citizens of the State and of the United States. (Mr. Calhoun in his published work upon the Constitution denied that there was any citizenship of the United States in any other sense than as being connected with the government through the States.)

The first attempt by Congress to define citizenship was in 1866 in the passage of the Civil Rights Act (Revised Statutes section 1992, 8 United States Code Annotated section 1). The act provided that:

"All persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power are declared to be citizens of the United States."

And this in turn was followed in 1868 by the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, United States Code Annotated Amendment 14, declaring:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Perkins v. Elg, Federal Reporter, 2nd Series, Vol. 99, Page 410 (1938), affirmed by supreme court at 307 US 325 (1939)

Both classes of citizen still exist. It's your right to be a Sovereign Citizen, while it's a privilege to be a fourteenth amendment citizen, and most importantly, it's up to you to determine which one you are, and which one you want to be. Click here if you want to reclaim your sovereignty.


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