Star-Tribune staff writer
Sovereign citizens believe the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution shifted the nation from its original common-law roots with states’ rights to a federal corporation that legally enslaved everyone.
The amendment opens with, “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.”
Until the amendment’s ratification in 1868, sovereigns believe, citizenship was a state-only matter.
But they believe the phrase “citizens of the United States” overrode state citizenship and revoked individual rights. As a result, sovereign citizens believe, the federal government now has the power to grant privileges through contracts such as marriage and driver’s licenses, gun permits and property codes.
To abolish the contractual relationship with the federal corporation or business corporations, many sovereigns will renounce their affiliation with Section 1 of the 14th Amendment with a document filed in a county clerk’s office.
For example, local sovereign citizen H.R. Graber was sued in two separate actions by the First National Bank of Omaha, and then the First Resolution Investment Co. through a local attorney for failing to pay a credit card debt, according to Natrona County District Court records.
But Graber responded he did not have a contract with the attorney, the state of Wyoming, or the Wyoming State Bar because he renounced his citizenship in the federal corporation, according to his responses filed in district court:
“I, Herman Ray Graber, THE UNDERSIGNED, HEREBY THIS INSTRUMENT, EXPATRIATE MYSELF FROM SECTION ONE OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT, FROM BEING PRIMARILY A FEDERAL AND STATE, COUNTY, MUNICIPAL CORPORATE CITIZEN AND AM NOW PRIMARILY A Wyoming Sovereign pursuant to 15 Statute at Large 249-250. (Expatriation Act). I am an American Sovereign Life not a UNITED STATES INC. CITIZEN.”
However, this understanding of the amendment as creating a slave class of all Americans has no credence with constitutional scholarship, nor does it legitimize their actions, a University Wyoming College of Law professor said.
“It’s total nonsense,” said Stephen Feldman, professor of law and adjunct professor of political science.
The only question about the legitimacy of the 14th Amendment was Congress’ method of requiring states that seceded from the government to ratify it before they could be readmitted to the Union, Feldman said.
“This notion [of the amendment] rendering people as slaves is not worth spending time on,” he said.
“These positions are essentially saying, ‘We are not subject to the government.’”