Anti-Federalism was a late-18th century movement that opposed the creation of a stronger U.S. federal government and which later opposed the ratification of the 1787 Constitution. The previous constitution, called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, gave state governments more authority. Led by Patrick Henry of Virginia, Anti-Federalists worried, among other things, that the position of president, then a novelty, might evolve into a monarchy. Though the Constitution was ratified and supplanted the Articles of Confederation, Anti-Federalist influence helped lead to the passage of the United States Bill of Rights.
During the American Revolution and its immediate aftermath, the term federal was applied to any person who supported the colonial union and the government formed under the Articles of Confederation. After the war, the group that felt the national government under the Articles was too weak appropriated the name Federalist for themselves. Historian Jackson Turner Main wrote, "to them, the man of 'federal principles' approved of 'federal measures,' which meant those that increased the weight and authority or extended the influence of the Confederation Congress."
As the Federalists moved to amend the Articles, eventually leading to the Constitutional Convention, they applied the term anti-federalist to their opposition. The term implied, correctly or not, both opposition to Congress and unpatriotic motives. The Anti-Federalists rejected the term, arguing that they were the true Federalists. In both their correspondence and their local groups, they tried to capture the term. For example, an unknown anti-federalist signed his public correspondence as "A Federal Farmer" and the New York committee opposing the Constitution was called the "Federal Republican Committee." However the Federalists carried the day and the name Anti-Federalist forever stuck.
The Anti-Federalists were composed of diverse elements, including those opposed to the Constitution because they thought that a stronger government threatened the sovereignty and prestige of the states, localities, or individuals; those that saw in the proposed government a new centralized, disguised "monarchic" power that would only replace the cast-off despotism of Great Britain; and those who simply feared that the new government threatened their personal liberties. Some of the opposition believed that the central government under the Articles of Confederation was sufficient. Still others believed that while the national government under the Articles was too weak, the national government under the Constitution would be too strong. Another complaint of the Anti-Federalists was that the Constitution provided for a centralized rather than federal government (and in The Federalist Papers, James Madison admits that the new Constitution has the characteristics of both a centralized and federal form of the government) and that a truly federal form of government was a leaguing of states as under the Articles of Confederation.
During the period of debate over the ratification of the Constitution, numerous independent local speeches and articles were published all across the country. Initially, many of the articles in opposition were written under pseudonyms, such as "Brutus" (likely Melancton Smith), "Centinel" (likely Samuel Bryan), and "Federal Farmer." Eventually, famous revolutionary figures such as Patrick Henry came out publicly against the Constitution. They argued that the strong national government proposed by the Federalists was a threat to the rights of individuals and that the president would become a king. They objected to the federal court system created by the proposed constitution. This produced a phenomenal body of political writing; the best and most influential of these articles and speeches were gathered by historians into a collection known as the Anti-Federalist Papers in allusion to the Federalist Papers.
In many states the opposition to the Constitution was strong (although Delaware, Georgia, and New Jersey ratified quickly with little controversy), and in two states—North Carolina and Rhode Island—it prevented ratification until the definite establishment of the new government practically forced their adherence. Individualism was the strongest element of opposition; the necessity, or at least the desirability, of a bill of rights was almost universally felt. In Rhode Island, resistance against the Constitution was so strong that civil war almost broke out on July 4, 1788, when anti-federalist members of the Country Party led by Judge William West marched into Providence with over 1,000 armed protesters.
The Anti-Federalists played upon these feelings in the ratification convention in Massachusetts. By this point, five of the states had ratified the Constitution with relative ease, but the Massachusetts convention was far more disputed and contentious. After a long debate, a compromise (known as the "Massachusetts compromise") was reached. Massachusetts would ratify the Constitution with recommended provisions in the ratifying instrument that the Constitution be amended with a bill of rights. (The Federalists contended that a conditional ratification would be void, so the recommendation was the strongest support that the ratifying convention could give to a bill of rights short of rejecting the Constitution.)
Four of the next five states to ratify, including New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York, included similar language in their ratification instruments. As a result, once the Constitution became operative in 1789, Congress sent a set of twelve amendments to the states. Ten of these amendments were immediately ratified and became known as the Bill of Rights, with one of the other two becoming the 27th Amendment—almost 200 years later. Thus, while the Anti-Federalists were unsuccessful in their quest to prevent the adoption of the Constitution, their efforts were not totally in vain. The Anti-Federalists thus became recognized as an influential group among the founding fathers of the United States.
With the passage of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Anti-Federalist movement was exhausted. Some activists joined the Anti-Administration Party that James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were forming about 1790–91 to oppose the policies of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton; this group soon became the Democratic-Republican Party. When Jefferson took office as the third president in 1801, he replaced Federalist appointees with Democratic-Republicans and sought to focus on issues that allowed the states to make more of their own decisions in matters. He also repealed the whiskey excise and other federal taxes, shut down some federal offices and broadly sought to change the fiscal system that Hamilton had created.
On June 8, 2014, a married couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller, committed a shooting spree in northeastern Las Vegas, Nevada, in which five people died, including the two shooters. The couple, who espoused extreme anti-government views, first killed two Las Vegas police officers at a restaurant before fleeing into a Walmart, where they killed an intervening armed civilian. The couple died after engaging responding officers in a shootout; police shot and killed Jerad, while Amanda committed suicide after being wounded.Democratic-Republican Party
The Democratic-Republican Party (formally the Republican Party) was an American political party formed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison around 1792 to oppose the centralizing policies of the new Federalist Party run by Alexander Hamilton, who was Secretary of the Treasury and chief architect of George Washington's administration. From 1801 to 1825, the new party controlled the presidency and Congress as well as most states during the First Party System. It began in 1791 as one faction in Congress and included many politicians who had been opposed to the new constitution. They called themselves Republicans after their political philosophy, republicanism. They distrusted the Federalist tendency to centralize and loosely interpret the Constitution, believing these policies were signs of monarchism and anti-republican values. The party splintered in 1824, with the faction loyal to Andrew Jackson coalescing into the Jacksonian movement (which would soon acquire the name Democratic Party), the faction led by John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay forming the National Republican Party and some other groups going on to form the Anti-Masonic Party. The National Republicans, Anti-Masons, and other opponents of Andrew Jackson later formed themselves into the Whig Party.During the time that this party existed, it was usually referred to as the Republican Party. To distinguish it from the modern Republican Party (founded in 1854), historians, political scientists and pundits often refer to this party as the Democratic-Republican Party or the Jeffersonian Republican Party. The modern Republican Party founded in 1854 deliberately chose to name itself after the Jeffersonians. Modern Democratic politicians claim Jefferson as their founder.The party arose from the Anti-Administration faction which met secretly in the national capital (Philadelphia) to oppose Alexander Hamilton's financial programs (see the American School and the Hamiltonian economic program). Jefferson denounced the programs as leading to monarchy and subversive of republicanism. Jefferson needed to have a nationwide party to challenge the Federalists, which Hamilton was building up with allies in major cities. Foreign affairs took a leading role in 1794–1795 as the Republicans vigorously opposed the Jay Treaty with the United Kingdom, which was then at war with France. Republicans saw France as more democratic after its Revolution while the United Kingdom represented the hated monarchy. The party denounced many of Hamilton's measures as unconstitutional, especially the national bank.
The party was strongest in the South and weakest in the Northeast. It demanded states' rights as expressed by the "Principles of 1798" articulated in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions that would allow states to nullify a federal law. Above all, the party stood for the primacy of the yeoman farmers. Republicans were deeply committed to the principles of republicanism, which they feared were threatened by the supposed monarchical tendencies of the Hamiltonian Federalists. The party came to power in 1801 with the election of Jefferson in the 1800 presidential election. The Federalists—too elitist to appeal to most people—faded away and totally collapsed after 1815. Despite internal divisions, the Republicans dominated the First Party System until partisanship itself withered away during the Era of Good Feelings after 1816.
The party selected its presidential candidates in a caucus of members of Congress. They included Thomas Jefferson (nominated 1796; elected 1800–1801, 1804), James Madison (1808, 1812) and James Monroe (1816, 1820). By 1824, the caucus system had practically collapsed. After 1800, the party dominated Congress and most state governments outside New England. By 1824, the party was also split four ways and lacked a center as the First Party System collapsed. The emergence of the Second Party System in the 1820s and 30s realigned the old factions. One remnant followed Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren into the new Democratic Party by 1828. Another remnant, led by John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, formed the National Republican Party in 1824 while some remaining smaller factions formed the Anti-Masonic Party, which along with some National Republican groups developed into the Whig Party by 1836. Most remaining National Republicans would soon after go on to be a part of the Free Soil and modern Republican parties in the 1840s and 1850s.Federalist
The term federalist describes several political beliefs around the world. Also, it may refer to the concept of parties; its members or supporters called themselves Federalists.First Massacre of Machecoul
The Machecoul massacre is one of the first events of the War in the Vendée, a revolt against mass conscription and the civil constitution of the clergy. The first massacre took place on 11 March 1793, in the provincial city of Machecoul, in the district of the lower Loire. The city was a thriving center of grain trade; most of the victims were administrators, merchants and citizens of the city.
Although the Machecoul massacre, and others that followed it, are often viewed (variously) as a royalist revolt, or a counter-revolution, twenty-first century historians generally agree that Vendee revolt was a complicated popular event brought on by anti-clericalism of the Revolution, mass conscription, and Jacobin anti-federalism. In the geographic area south of the Loire, resistance to recruitment was particularly intense, and much of this area also resented intrusion by partisans of the republic, called "blue coats", who brought with them new ideas about district and judicial organization, and who required reorganization of parishes with the so-called juring priests (those who had taken the civil oath). Consequently, the insurgency became a combination of many impulses, at which conscription and the organization of parishes led the list. The response to it was incredibly violent on both sides.Freemen on the land
Freemen-on-the-land (also freemen-of-the-land, the freemen movement or simply freemen) are a loose group of individuals who believe that they are bound by statute laws only if they consent to those laws. They believe that they can therefore declare themselves independent of the government and the rule of law, holding that the only "true" law is their own interpretation of "common law". This belief has been described as a conspiracy theory. Freemen are active in English-speaking countries: the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
In the Canadian court case Meads v. Meads, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice John D. Rooke used the phrase "Organised Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments" (OPCA) to describe the techniques and arguments used by freemen in court, describing them as frivolous and vexatious. There is no recorded instance of freeman tactics being upheld in a court of law. In refuting each of the arguments used by Meads, Rooke concluded that "a decade of reported cases, many of which he refers to in his ruling, have failed to prove a single concept advanced by OPCA litigants."The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States classifies freemen as sovereign citizen extremists and domestic terrorists.Gordon Kahl
Gordon Wendell Kahl (January 8, 1920 – June 3, 1983) was an American involved in two fatal shootouts with law enforcement officers in the United States in 1983.John Lamb (general)
John Lamb (1735–1800) was an American soldier, politician, and Anti-Federalist organizer. During the American Revolutionary War he led the 2nd Continental Artillery Regiment.List of paleoconservative organizations
The following is a list of organizations with paleoconservative ideas. Paleoconservatism is a term for a conservative political philosophy found primarily in the United States stressing tradition, limited government, civil society, anti-colonialism and anti-federalism, along with religious, regional, national and Western identity.Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee
The Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee is a United States federal government interagency committee created during the Trump Administration, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, and is coordinated by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Some media have called it "secret anti-cannabis agency", "a uniquely Trumpian government body ... launched in secret for reasons the administration won't explain", and a "secretly amassed committee of federal agencies from across the government to combat public support for marijuana".The committee's existence was "previously unknown" until it was described in an August, 2018 BuzzFeed News investigatory report. In a reaction to the journalism for The Hill, the national Drug Policy Alliance called it "mind-boggling, and underscores this Administration’s ineptitude on drug policy", and a California cannabis rights advocacy group called it an assembly of "department-wide prohibitionist cabals". Federal authorities in Denver contacted by local television news said they hadn't heard of the committee.Political analysis by MassCentral.com said the ONDCP is "required by statute to 'take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize'" cannabis at the federal level, and would be "intent on getting Donald Trump to reconsider his support for letting states go their own way in this area", labeling the effort anti-federalism.Nullification (U.S. Constitution)
Nullification, in United States constitutional history, is a legal theory that a state has the right to nullify, or invalidate, any federal law which that state has deemed unconstitutional with respect to the United States Constitution (as opposed to the state's own constitution). The theory of nullification has never been legally upheld by federal courts.The theory of nullification is based on a view that the states formed the Union by an agreement (or "compact") among the states, and that as creators of the federal government, the states have the final authority to determine the limits of the power of that government. Under this, the compact theory, the states and not the federal courts are the ultimate interpreters of the extent of the federal government's power. Under this theory, the states therefore may reject, or nullify, federal laws that the states believe are beyond the federal government's constitutional powers. The related idea of interposition is a theory that a state has the right and the duty to "interpose" itself when the federal government enacts laws that the state believes to be unconstitutional. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison set forth the theories of nullification and interposition in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798.
Courts at the state and federal level, including the U.S. Supreme Court, repeatedly have rejected the theory of nullification. The courts have decided that under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, federal law is superior to state law, and that under Article III of the Constitution, the federal judiciary has the final power to interpret the Constitution. Therefore, the power to make final decisions about the constitutionality of federal laws lies with the federal courts, not the states, and the states do not have the power to nullify federal laws.
Between 1798 and the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, several states threatened or attempted nullification of various federal laws. None of these efforts were legally upheld. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were rejected by the other states. The Supreme Court rejected nullification attempts in a series of decisions in the 19th century, including Ableman v. Booth, which rejected Wisconsin's attempt to nullify the Fugitive Slave Act. The Civil War ended most nullification efforts.
In the 1950s, southern states attempted to use nullification and interposition to prevent integration of their schools. These attempts failed when the Supreme Court again rejected nullification in Cooper v. Aaron, explicitly holding that the states may not nullify federal law.Oklahoma City bombing
The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist truck bombing on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States on April 19, 1995. Perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing happened at 9:02am and killed at least 168 people, injured more than 680 others, and destroyed one-third of the building. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage. Extensive rescue efforts were undertaken by local, state, federal, and worldwide agencies in the wake of the bombing, and substantial donations were received from across the country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) activated 11 of its Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, consisting of 665 rescue workers who assisted in rescue and recovery operations. Until the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States, and remains the deadliest incident of domestic terrorism in the country's history.
Within 90 minutes of the explosion, McVeigh was stopped by Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Charlie Hanger for driving without a license plate and arrested for illegal weapons possession. Forensic evidence quickly linked McVeigh and Nichols to the attack; Nichols was arrested, and within days, both were charged. Michael and Lori Fortier were later identified as accomplices. McVeigh, a veteran of the Gulf War and a U.S. militia movement sympathizer, had detonated a Ryder rental truck full of explosives parked in front of the building. His co-conspirator, Nichols, had assisted with the bomb's preparation. Motivated by his dislike for the U.S. federal government and unhappy about its handling of the Ruby Ridge incident in 1992 and the Waco siege in 1993, McVeigh timed his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the deadly fire that ended the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.The official investigation, known as "OKBOMB", saw FBI agents conduct 28,000 interviews, amass 3.5 short tons (3,200 kg) of evidence, and collected nearly one billion pieces of information. The bombers were tried and convicted in 1997. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison in 2004. Michael and Lori Fortier testified against McVeigh and Nichols; Michael was sentenced to 12 years in prison for failing to warn the United States government, and Lori received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.
As a result of the bombing, the U.S. Congress passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which tightened the standards for habeas corpus in the United States, as well as legislation designed to increase the protection around federal buildings to deter future terrorist attacks. On April 19, 2000, the Oklahoma City National Memorial was dedicated on the site of the Murrah Federal Building, commemorating the victims of the bombing. Remembrance services are held every year on April 19, at the time of the explosion.Paleoconservatism
Paleoconservatism (sometimes shortened to paleocon) is a predominantly American conservative political philosophy which stresses traditionalism, limited government, Judeo-Christian ethics, regionalism, nationalism and European identity.Paleoconservatism's concerns overlap those of the Old Right that opposed the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s as well as American social conservatism of the late 20th century.
According to the international relations scholar Michael Foley, "paleoconservatives press for restrictions on immigration, a rollback of multicultural programmes, the decentralization of federal policy, the restoration of controls upon free trade, a greater emphasis upon economic nationalism and non-interventionism in the conduct of American foreign policy, and a generally revanchist outlook upon a social order in need of recovering old lines of distinction and in particular the assignment of roles in accordance with traditional categories of gender, ethnicity, and race".Political theorist Paul Gottfried is credited with coining the term in the 1980s. He says the term originally referred to various Americans, such as conservative and traditionalist Catholics and agrarian Southerners, who turned to anti-communism during the Cold War.Republic of Texas (group)
The Republic of Texas is a general term for several organizations, some of which have been called militia groups, that claim the annexation of Texas by the United States was illegal and that Texas remains an independent nation to this day but is under occupation. The issue of the legal status of Texas led the group to claim to have reinstated a provisional government on December 13, 1995. Activists within the movement claim over 40,000 active supporters, and public opinion polls have shown significant support for the secession of Texas or other states. A September 2014 Reuters/Ipsos poll found over 34% of people in southwestern states favored their own state seceding from the United States. So far, however, supporters have not managed to turn these public sentiments into concrete moves toward an independent Texas.Ruby Ridge
Ruby Ridge was the site of an eleven-day siege near Naples, Idaho, U.S., beginning on August 21, 1992, when Randy Weaver, members of his immediate family, and family friend Kevin Harris resisted agents of the United States Marshals Service (USMS) and the Hostage Rescue Team of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI HRT). Following a Marshals Service reconnoiter of the Weaver property pursuant to a bench warrant for Weaver after his failure to appear on firearms charges, an initial encounter between six US marshals and the Weavers resulted in a shootout and the deaths of Deputy US Marshal William Francis Degan, age 42, the Weavers' son Samuel (Sammy), age 14, and Weaver's family dog (Striker). In the subsequent siege of the Weaver residence, led by the FBI, Weaver's 43-year-old wife Vicki was killed by FBI sniper fire. All casualties occurred on the first two days of the operation. The siege and stand-off were ultimately resolved by civilian negotiators, with the surrender and arrest of Kevin Harris on August 30, and the surrender of Randy Weaver and the surviving Weaver children the next day.
Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris were subsequently arraigned on a variety of federal criminal charges, including first-degree murder for the death of Deputy US Marshal W.F. Degan. Harris was acquitted of all charges, and Weaver was subsequently acquitted of all charges except for the original bail condition violation for the arms charges and for having missed his original court date. He was fined US$10,000 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was credited with time served plus an additional three months. He was then released.During the federal criminal trial of Weaver and Harris, Weaver's attorney Gerry Spence made accusations of "criminal wrongdoing" against the agencies involved in the incident, in particular, the FBI, the USMS, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) for Idaho. At the completion of the trial, the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility formed the Ruby Ridge Task Force (RRTF) to investigate Spence's charges. A redacted HTML version of the RRTF report was publicly released by Lexis Counsel Connect, an information service for attorneys, which raised questions about the conduct and policies of all of the participating agencies. A PDF version of the report was later posted by the Justice Department.Both the Weaver family and Harris brought civil suits against the government over the events of the firefight and siege, the Weavers winning a combined out-of-court settlement in August 1995 of $3.1 million, and Harris being awarded, after persistent appeals, a $380,000 settlement in September 2000.
To answer public questions about Ruby Ridge, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information held hearings between September 6 and October 19, 1995, and subsequently issued a report calling for reforms in federal law enforcement to prevent a repeat of the losses of life at Ruby Ridge, and to restore public confidence in federal law enforcement. It was noted that the Ruby Ridge incident and the 1993 Waco siege involved many of the same agencies (e.g., the FBI HRT and the ATF) and some of the same personnel (e.g., the FBI HRT commander.)
The Boundary County, Idaho, prosecutor indicted FBI HRT sniper Lon Horiuchi for manslaughter in 1997 before the statute of limitations for this charge could expire; the Idaho v Horiuchi case was moved to federal court which has jurisdiction over federal agents. Here, it underwent a supremacy clause dismissal, an en banc reversal on appeal of the dismissal, and ultimately, the dropping of charges after a change in the local prosecutor.Sagebrush Rebellion
The Sagebrush Rebellion was a movement during the 1970s and 1980s that sought major changes to federal land control, use and disposal policy in the American West where, in 13 western states, federal land holdings include between 20% and 85% of a state's area. Notably, supporters of this movement wanted more state and local control over these lands, if not outright transfer of them to state and local authorities and/or privatization. As much of the land in question is sagebrush steppe, supporters adopted the name "Sagebrush Rebellion". The sentiment survives into the 21st century with pressure from some individual citizens, politicians, and organized groups especially with respect to livestock grazing, mineral extraction, and other economic development policy for these lands.Saul Cornell
Saul Cornell, is the Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History at Fordham University, a former Professor of history at Ohio State University and the former Director of the Second Amendment Research Center at the John Glenn Institute.He received a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989 and is now one of the nation’s leading authorities on early American constitutional thought.He is the author of The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America (1999) for which he won the 2001 Cox Book Prize and A Well-Regulated Militia: the Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America (2006). He is also the co-author of many other publications, including the textbook Visions of America: A History of the United States (2009). Recently, he authored an article on Salon regarding the 2011 Tucson shooting and Gun Control.In addition to book writing, he has contributed to numerous Amicus curiae briefs in court cases involving the 2nd Amendment. Most notably, he is the co-author of an Amicus Brief filed in District of Columbia v. Heller.Singer-Swapp Standoff
On January 16, 1988, a Mormon fundamentalist group lead by Addam Swapp and his mother-in-law, Vickie Singer, bombed an LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) Chapel in Marion, Utah. The group retreated to their homestead a half mile away, holding up for 13 days as roughly 150 armed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents surrounded their compound. The standoff only ended after a shootout January 28, which left Utah Department of Corrections Lieutenant Fred House dead. According to officials, the group had instigated the attack in hope of instigating the resurrection of their previous patriarch, John Singer, who had been killed in a smaller altercation with law enforcement nine years earlier.Sovereign citizen movement
The sovereign citizen movement is a loose grouping of American and Commonwealth litigants, commentators, tax protesters, and financial-scheme promoters. Self-described "sovereign citizens" see themselves as answerable only to their particular interpretation of the common law and as not subject to any government statutes or proceedings. In the United States they do not recognize United States currency and maintain that they are "free of any legal constraints". They especially reject most forms of taxation as illegitimate. Participants in the movement argue this concept in opposition to the idea of "federal citizens", who, they say, have unknowingly forfeited their rights by accepting some aspect of federal law. The doctrines of the movement resemble those of the freemen on the land movement more commonly found in the Commonwealth, such as in Britain and in Canada.Many members of the sovereign citizen movement believe that the United States government is illegitimate. JJ MacNab, who writes for Forbes about anti-government extremism, has described the sovereign-citizen movement as consisting of individuals who believe that the county sheriff is the most powerful law-enforcement officer in the country, with authority superior to that of any federal agent, elected official, or local law-enforcement official. This belief can be traced back to white-extremist groups like Posse Comitatus and the constitutional militia movement.The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classifies some sovereign citizens ("sovereign citizen extremists") as domestic terrorists. In 2010 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) estimated that approximately 100,000 Americans were "hard-core sovereign believers", with another 200,000 "just starting out by testing sovereign techniques for resisting everything from speeding tickets to drug charges".In surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015, representatives of US law enforcement ranked the risk of terrorism from the sovereign-citizen movement higher than the risk from any other group, including Islamic extremism, militias, racists, and Neo-Nazis. The New South Wales Police Force in Australia has also identified sovereign citizens as a potential terrorist threat.Strawman theory
Strawman theory (also called the Strawman illusion) is a pseudolegal theory prevalent in various movements such as sovereign citizen, tax protester, freeman on the land, and the redemption movement. The theory holds that an individual has two personas, one of flesh and the other a separate legal personality (i.e., the "strawman"). The idea is that an individual’s debts, liabilities, taxes and legal responsibilities belong to the strawman rather than the physical individual. The strawman theory is recognized in law as a scam: the FBI considers anyone promoting it a likely fraudster; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers it a frivolous argument and fines people that use the theory on their Federal tax returns.