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Once Again, Sovereign Citizens Making Life Difficult for Sane People


I’ve written before about the “sovereign citizens” movement – a group of people who claim not to recognize the authority of the federal government. These beliefs are usually backed up by some incredibly bizarre legal theories – claims that capitalizing one’s name in a court document makes the document invalid, claiming that a flag in a courtroom with a gold fringe signifies that it’s an “admiralty court” which has no jurisdiction over them, etc.

These arguments usually come up when a sovereign citizen is asked to pay their mortgage, or to pay back taxes (as you may assume, most of them argue that they are under no obligation to pay federal taxes).

Most sovereign citizens are lone crackpots who are harmless, as long as they don’t become violent. The worst thing they usually do is waste courts’ time by filing frivolous and incomprehensible documents.

But what happens when the owner of a medium-sized to large company is taking his company through bankruptcy, and gets caught up in this nonsense? That’s what happened in Chicago recently: the owner of the Giordano’s pizza chain filed some documents with a bankruptcy court which were prepared by a “sovereign citizen” guru.

As one might imagine, it’s causing a lot of trouble with the bankruptcy court. I certainly don’t envy the clerks who will have to pore over indecipherable filings, trying to make sense of them, just in case a valid legal argument accidentally found its way in.

It appears that the owner of the pizza chain has not been interested in “sovereign citizen” ideas for very long. As is often the case, he was taken in by a charismatic sovereign citizen guru. These individuals often peddle seminars, self-published books, and pre-printed court filings. They tend to dupe people who don’t know much about the law, and think that they can skirt their legal obligations by saying a few magic words.

Sovereign citizens groups often end up victimizing gullible people who don’t know any better. The owner of the pizza chain, however, doesn’t really have the excuse of ignorance. He was a successful businessman, who had a team of lawyers advising him on the proper way to proceed through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He chose to ignore their advice, and he fired them, or they withdrew from representation because their client refused to take their advice. What motivated him to pursue such a futile and self-destructive legal strategy isn’t clear, but its consequences are: a bankruptcy trustee has taken over operations of the business, and the owner has been barred from entering the company’s headquarters, or even patronizing the restaurant.

Just as a refresher, I should go over the sovereign citizen movement’s most common arguments and selling points, which should help you to avoid being taken in by their nonsense. Of course, if you really want to buy what they’re selling, chances are good that you won’t be interested in hearing their arguments debunked. This is intended for people who don’t want to get screwed over by a sovereign citizen.

One of the most common, and most bizarre, arguments that sovereign citizens make is the “capital letters” argument. Trying to figure out the exact logic behind it is futile, because there is no logic to it. But, it goes something like this: court documents often write the names of parties in ALL CAPS. Because most people don’t write their names in all caps, sovereign citizens argue, the court document is not actually addressing them, and they are therefore not bound by it. As you probably guessed, this argument is completely bogus, and every court that has been presented with it has dismissed it out of hand.

Sovereign citizens also refuse to carry drivers’ licenses, and sometimes even print their own. They often make their own license plates, as well. Of course, they argue that they are not bound by the authority of the state, so they do not have to carry state documents. This does not stop them from being arrested for driving without a license, registration, or car insurance.

Essentially, anyone who claims that you can place yourself above the law is either delusional, or attempting to sell you something, or possibly both, and you take their advice at your peril.

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  • Ruth

    You are a disgusting shill of a human being making up crap about citizens who know their constitutional rights. There is no organized movement called the “sovereign citizen movement”. There are people in this government who wish to make this into some kind of domestic terror group – and essentially by doing so they are making all citizens of this country into domestic terrorists if they resist the authoritarian abuse of our Constitution.

    You try to use ridiculous examples of making their own drivers licenses etc – that’s a few individuals who are anti-government. That is not what MY site is about at all. It is about exposing the United Nations Agenda 21 plot to steal our property and our freedoms and this insidious plot is happening now in just about every community.

    You are either part of the evil cabal who is perpetrating this evil plot or you are a clueless useless idiot who has been duped by them.

  • John Richards

    “You are either part of the evil cabal who is perpetrating this evil plot or you are a clueless useless idiot who has been duped by them.”

    Aaawwww, can’t I be both?

  • Steve

    Ruth you need to seek professional help. The one things Sovereigns have a conflict with is realizing they have been sold snake-oil. To avoid this embarrassment, you dig deeper into cryptic interpretations and ridiculous justifications.

    Its okay to admit you were duped.

  • debbie krasyk

    The government has stolen our freedoms. Made us pay licensing fees to travel on public highways, pay taxes that are used to fund illegal wars and welfare for the useless. Will Americans wake up?

  • John Doe

    Sovereignty, eh? There is some truth in the argument, but it is conflicted too much by large amounts of disinformation. There is a former IRS Chief of Staff who gives lectures advising people that no law exists compelling folks to pay their taxes.

    There are Native Americans who possess treaties that are hundreds of years old with sovereigns like the Queen of England and the Pope in Rome, and they are valid.

    You should not insult those who bring up Agenda 21, if you read it, you can see certain things, like parts of the Americans Southwest, and Northeast being designated as U.N. territories. Open your eyes, at least one of them!

  • james

    sovereign is law! gods law,law of the land. why shall we be regulated by licence,permits,ss#,ect. we inherit the earth from god.and the people have the right to use it without restrictions! that’s what our founding fathers fought,bled,and died for. to preserve our rights to freedom that our creator has given us! government uses us to pay the debt to control us by stocks and bid bonds. wake up!! sovereigns are more peaceful than any government. your just using us for false flag operations and martial law!….god bless you! i’ll prey 4 you to open your eyes!!

  • Susan M

    Why don’t Indian casinos have to answer to patent infringement laws?

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